Introducing the first Georgia Trail Summit in 15 years
April 11 and 12 in Athens
Atlanta’s BeltLine trail is already filled to capacity every sunny Sunday. Businesses like Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Ponce City Market are quickly embracing the new influx of customers.
Demand for trails is on the rise from Rome to Jekyll Island. Georgia’s trails are hot. They’re loved by cyclists, walkers, paddlers, history buffs and tourists. And people want more of them.
The Georgia Trail Summit brings the state’s entire trail community together April 11 and 12 in Athens for the first time in 15 years. Trail managers, planners, policy makers, users, advocates, parks departments, old salts, new blood and visionaries are encouraged to attend the event at the Classic Center, 300 North Thomas Street in Athens. The cost is $60 for both days. Register at Eventbrite.
Sessions will address the far-reaching benefits of trails such as increasing exercise, providing transportation alternatives to driving, offering low-cost choices for leisure activities, reducing health care costs, generating attractive jobs, increasing revenues to nearby cities and schools, and getting people of all ages out in nature to relax and recharge.
An impressive group of trail experts will lead interactive conversations on relevant topics. Highlights include keynote remarks by Jim Langford of MillionMile Greenway; visioning trails in urban and rural settings by Ryan Gravel, Perkins + Will; and PATH Foundation’s success story – 200 miles in 23 years –
as told by longtime PATH leader Ed McBrayer.
There’s also a dynamic menu of mobile workshops on nearby trails for hikers, cyclists, paddlers, heritage and cultural enthusiasts, foodies and mountain bikers.
Topics like connecting existing trails to each other, optimal design features and the tremendous economic benefits trails provide will be discussed. For instance, a recent economic impact study on Georgia’s most popular trail – the Silver Comet – showed $461 million is generated each year by the 61-mile trail. That’s combining increased property values and taxes, and recreational and tourism spending. Remarks by Julie Smith of TRED and Byron Rushing of ARC will explore the new findings.
“Results from this study are relevant to every trail in Georgia,” says Tracie Sanchez, a Summit organizer. She adds that Georgia’s trails are also driving tourism and historic preservation with themed trails based on Gone with the Wind, Georgia wines, organic farms, local honey and farm-to-table experiences for gourmet foodies.
Georgia Trail Summit sponsors include MillionMile Greenway, UGA College of Public Health, Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, Lose and Associates, Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia, Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Georgia Department of Economic Development – Tourism Division, KAIZEN Collaborative, Chattahoochee Trail Horse Association, ALTA Planning + Design, Firefly Trail, GSU School of Public Health, UGA Office of Sustainability and PATH Foundation. More than 40 trail nonprofits have also endorsed the Summit.