New mountain biking trail to open in Woodstock
Taylor Randahl’s first mountain bike was a GT Avalanche. The 16-year-old Woodstock high school student was known to hone his skills at Olde Rope Mill Park. But his young life was tragically cut short when a car traveling in the opposite direction struck a deer, which then knocked him off his bike.
More than 10 years after that day in April 2000, the Avalanche Trail has opened at the park honoring him, an endeavor completed through a partnership of the city of Woodstock, the Greenprints Alliance and SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association) Woodstock. The 6-mile mountain biking trail’s completion will be celebrated with an official grand opening Oct. 23 at an event hosted by SORBA Woodstock featuring bike demonstrations, competitions, group rides, games, a bike giveaway and live music. The festivities will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rope Mill Park, 108 Arnold Mill Road.
Jay Wilkes, who is president of the Woodstock chapter of SORBA, which has 125 members, said the 15 miles of Blankets Creek trails surrounding Lake Allatoona, off of Sixes Road, have been so successful, that his group knew they had to look to add more, and that’s where the Taylor Randahl Memorial Trails came into play.
“Taylor’s dream was to build a race course there at Rope Mill Park, and that was his lifelong dream,” Wilkes said. “So when his dad went to the (Woodstock) city council and told them that, they said this is just something that we have to do, so it’s always been there, the vision to do that.”
The Greenprints Alliance, as it was putting together a master plan for 60 miles of multi-use trails in the city, was chiefly responsible for getting the ball rolling, he said. The city budgeted $150,000 for the trails.
The trails are meeting a growing need, according to Wilkes, because the sport of mountain biking is gaining exponentially in popularity.
“It’s the new skiing,” Wilkes said. “You can’t really travel to a ski resort because you live in Georgia, but it’s the closest thing you can get to having a ski resort in your back yard, so to speak. We see anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 users at Blankets Creek every month.
“You see tags from Cobb County and from out of state. It’s known in mountain biking circles as one of the most popular trail systems in the country, so we draw people from all over.”
The Taylor Randahl Memorial Trails are a combination of all the trails at Rope Mill Park, including the 6-mile Avalanche Trail. In May, the city officially dedicated the trails, and Taylor’s parents, who now live in Texas, were on hand for the ceremony.
Wilkes said there are plans to bring connectivity between Blankets Creek, the Taylor Randahl Memorial Trails and a new trail system in Little River, that will abut the Brookshire subdivision, as well as extend across the river on the north side.
It doesn’t cost anything to park or use the trails, although there are donation boxes at Blankets Creek and plans to install some at Rope Mill Park. The money will help in building future trails.
Wilkes said a professional trail building company is hired to bulldoze the pathway and volunteers then clean it up and flatten the trail out, re-vegetating the hillside to minimize erosion. Avalanche is a challenge at 24 inches wide, getting down to 12 inches wide in parts.
“It’s meant even to tax the professionals out there,” Wilkes said. “There’s a lot of steep hills, a lot of fast ascents, and that’s part of the challenge of building a race course, is to throw those features into a trail.”
As far as ratings go, it’s similar to a ski slope. Avalanche is an intermediate, not a bunny slope and not a black diamond, Wilkes said.
Just as is already done at Blankets Creek, the direction of the trail system changes by the day. Signs posted let riders know what directions to go on what days of the week in a safety measure to eliminate head-on collisions. Hikers are also welcome to use the trails, but cautioned to go the opposite direction of the mountain bikers.
For more information about the grand opening celebration or SORBA Woodstock, visit www.sorbawoodstock.com.