NPS Considering Jackson Gap Trail for Multiuse

Your comments and support are needed to impact the future of mountain biking in the Chattanooga area.

The National Park Service has released the Lookout Mountain Battlefield General Management Plan Amendment and is accepting comments from the public.  This document outlines three options (A, B and C) for managing various aspects of the park over the next 15-20 years. The options are summarized on page 85; however, Plan C has been chosen by the NPS as the preferred option. This option includes changes to the Jackson Gap Trail that would make it multiuse and thus holds the key to enormous off-road cycling potential in the Chattanooga area. When the various component trails are completed, this small link at Jackson Gap with proposed connections in the Old Wauhatchie Pike area will provide cyclists with an off-road connection from East Ridge or Chickamauga Dam to Scenic Highway near Covenant College, and perhaps beyond toward Lula Lake and Cloudland Canyon.

The Plan C proposed changes as stated in the document are:

"Park managers would open the trail from Jackson Gap Trail (on park land) to Jackson Spring (on private property) to bicycle users once development and maintenance agreements are reached with private property owners (Covenant College) and partner groups. The Ochs gateway would remain a foot trail with no mountain bike access.

Trail improvements would be made to Jackson Gap, Jackson Spring (private property), and John Smartt trails to connect bicycle users to the Upper Truck Trail. To connect with regional multiuse trails, portions of the John Smartt Trail and Jackson Gap trails would be designated as multiuse for hiking and mountain biking. Signage would be placed on park property, and parking would be provided on private property by agreement."

Your input to the NPS is a critical part of making this a reality.

SORBA Chattanooga is endorsing the recommended plan C and looks forward to its final approval and implementation. We can't over-stress the importance of these changes. The ability to connect so may areas with an off-road trail is a recreational and economic asset that will enhance our community for decades to come. If you also support these changes, we suggest you indicate as such by commenting at the NPS website within the comment period which ends February 12. 

The NPS will also be holding a public meeting to present the plan on January 27th from 4:30 PM to 8:00 PM, with presentations at 5:00 and 7:00, at the South Chattanooga Recreation Center, 1151 West 40th Street, Chattanooga , Tennessee. We encourage supporters to attend and to offer their thoughts to the NPS representatives on hand. 

If you have any questions about this or any other SORBA Chattanooga projects, feel free to contact us. We're always glad to hear from you.

Feel free to use any or all of this wording to get your comments started:

As a member of SORBA Chattanooga, I fully endorse Alternative C in the General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Unit. Alternative C includes several items SORBA Chattanooga has supported through the NPS process including better trail connections and the change to allow bicycles on the Jackson Gap/Jackson Spring Trails. We believe Alternative C would provide Chattanooga with further recreational and economic assets that would enhance our community for decades to come.  We are excited for these improvements and look forward to their implementation.

Posted on January 26, 2015 .