A Hall County park will soon be getting new biking and walking trails, a highly requested amenity, thanks to a partnership with a mountain biking group and a local company.
The approximately 4-mile trail at Cool Springs Park in the Chestatee area is scheduled to be completed in July.
Prima Tappa Athletic Club, which runs a mountain biking program for local middle and high school students, will build and maintain the trail. Fox, a Braselton-based company that manufactures ride dynamics products, will be sponsoring the trail for $40,000.
Athletes have been traveling to Road Atlanta for practices, an almost 40-minute drive for some families who live in the Chestatee or North Hall areas. Fox also sponsored the Road Atlanta trails.
Loren Funk, the head coach for the Chestatee team, said the drive to Road Atlanta is a haul for many families, so Prima Tappa has been especially focused on finding new trails over the past year.
“For the people on the north end of the county, we’re trying to get down to practice, especially with traffic in the afternoon, it is really difficult to get down there. It takes quite a while,” Funk said.
Funk’s wife Michelle is also a coach, and they have had two sons bike with Prima Tappa. The Chestatee and North Hall areas have a shortage of biking trails, he said, so the family usually goes to Chicopee Woods or the Elachee Nature Center. Some mountain bikers also go to Lumpkin County, he said.
The program had its first season in 2014 and started out using trails at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus. When Prima Tappa outgrew those trails, practices moved to Road Atlanta. Seasons run from July through November.
The program is growing quickly, with about 60 students from Hall participating last year, according to Prima Tappa’s executive director Chad Hayes. Students from other counties, including Gwinnett and Forsyth, have also formed their own Prima Tappa teams.
Hayes said the program is more about teaching the basics — “prima tappa” is Italian for “first step” — than molding every student into a star athlete.
“We just want to get people started. We want to do things that are the first stage to a lifelong, healthy habit of cycling,” Hayes said. “…We’re really focused on the ‘adventure kids,’ the kids that don’t do baseball or football and need to do something active and get away from the computer.”
Mike Stabler, the head coach for the North Hall team, said mountain biking helps the students build stamina and learn how to be part of a team.
“Every student races. Every student rides. It’s not like you have benchwarmers with this sport,” Stabler said.
Plus, biking on a trail like the one at Road Atlanta or at Cool Springs Park can be safer for cyclists, Stabler said.
“In this day and age, you have distracted drivers on the road,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to get on a trail and just ride without having to worry about cars.”
While the trail at Road Atlanta is closed to the public, the trail at Cool Springs Park will be open to the public.
The trails will be provided at no cost to the county, which is finishing its parks master plan. The plan includes input from residents through a survey and public meetings, and trails were the top request.