What once was and still is dense forest is turning into one of the newest additions to Lake Guntersville State Park.
Phase 1 of a project to create a “Gateway Trail” that will encompass the golf course began July 7 and will continue for about another month. Workers are clearing a path to connect 2 existing fire trails already on park grounds.
The fire trails will eventually be re-located and the existing paths will be revamped as part of the Gateway Trail. A final phase will connect the trails in a loop to a start/finish point at the lodge overlooking the course and park.
“Our objective is to get people out in the woods,’’ said project manager Rich Edwards of the International Mountain Biking Association and Trail Solutions.
The trail will be open to mountain bikers, hikers and runners. As for the mountain bikers, the course will be for novice level riders and beginners to advanced riders. Portions of the trail will be more difficult to navigate than others for the latter.
“When the first phase is done, it will be open for riding but the trail won’t be nearly complete,’’ said State Parks district superintendent Michael Jeffreys. “It’s just part of the overall trail upgrade. This is Step One in improving the trail system.’’
If things go as planned, beginners will be able to rent mountain bikes at the park and get started on the trail. Novices can watch more experienced riders and learn how to navigate the more severe terrain along the trail.
Mr. Edwards said the 2011 tornadoes is apparent as workers clear the forest.
“There’s an amazing amount of weather destruction,’’ he said, “but it’s created a great mosaic.’’
Mr. Edwards said he and his crew, which includes 2 interns from Argentina, will work with State Park staff members on how to maintain the trail as improvements are made.
“We’re not catching fish for them,’’ he said using the old adage. “We’re teaching them to fish. We want the staff to have a skilled trail crew.’’
Mr. Jeffreys said a date has not been determined to start Phase 2 of the project.