A local branch of the National Park Service has proposed a 2-mile trail in Cobb County connecting Hyde Farm with national parkland and is inviting public comment on the proposal through May 10.
The proposed walking and biking trail would connect the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s Johnson Ferry North unit to the historic Hyde Farm, run along the west side of the river and close a gap to the Silver Comet Trail, according to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s newsletter.
Bill Cox, superintendent of the recreation area, said plans for the trail are in the very early stages, and cost estimates are not yet available. Cox said more details, including trail surface materials and the exact route will be determined in the planning and environmental impact studies.
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area consists of 15 park units and trails along 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River between Peachtree Creek in Atlanta and Buford Dam, just north of Atlanta. Cox said the Hyde Farm trail would be a step toward establishing a sense of connectivity throughout all 15 units.
“The idea of understanding the recreation unit as a whole as opposed to 15 separate units, I think gives people an appreciation for what they have here,” he said. “That just provides opportunities for people to appreciate the resource more and then hopefully become stewards of the resource and advocates for it as well.”
Cox said the goal is to provide a more established and safer alternative to the trails that already snake through the area.
Johnson Ferry was at one point an important transportation link, connecting Atlanta with much of north Georgia, according to the National Park Service. The Chattahoochee recreation area’s Johnson Ferry unit includes 310 acres of parkland with an entrance at the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Columns Drive in Marietta. It already offers about 2.6 miles of trails bordering the Chattahoochee River, as well as a boat launch and covered pavilion.
The 95-acre Hyde Farm was established in the 1830s and is located on the northwest bank of the Chattahoochee River, adjacent to the Johnson Ferry recreation area in Cobb County. The farm is now county-owned.
Cox said an agreement with the former owner of the farm, J.C Hyde, secured promises from the National Park Service and Cobb County that trail connections would be made and that the portions of the farm would be restored. He said he is hopeful the county will pay for the design and construction phase of the trail, once planning is complete.
“I’m sure we’ll approach Cobb with something more formal like a construction partnership agreement. There may be others who want to participate in the funding as well,” Cox said.
Eric Meyer, planning division manager at the Cobb County Department of Transportation, said the county does not yet have plans to contribute financially to the planning or construction of the trail. But, Meyer said, the county has a history of working with the National Park Service to secure grant money for trail projects and would be open to that possibility if the trail’s planning is received well by the community.
“National Park Service has not asked us to financially contribute to construction of this trail yet. They may, but that’s not where we’re at yet,” he said. “We don’t have any (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) dollars set aside for it, so it would be a while if that ever was to happen.”
Meyer said the Hyde Farm Trail was part of the Cobb County Greenways and Trails Master Plan, presented last year. But, he said, the master plan simply lays out a vision for future trail connections and does not tie the county to any contributions.
Meyer said the inclusion in the master plan was a result of feedback from community members who wanted to see trail connections through Hyde Farm and the National Park Service land to Lower Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry and Columns Drive.
“It was a trail included in our master plan, but that plan (includes) 220 miles of trails,” Meyer said. “We’re just trying to make sure, as we do planning for trails or roads ... that we’re coordinating with others.”
Bob Ott, the Cobb County commissioner who represents the district, including the proposed trail, said Cobb does not have the money to build or maintain the trail. Ott said he walked the area proposed for the trail three years ago with representatives of the Chattahoochee recreation area and told them the county would not be interested.
Another concern, Ott said, is the county does not yet have a permanent caretaker for Hyde Farm. Until that person is chosen and placed, the county will also be wary of more foot traffic connecting to the farm.
To submit comments, concerns or suggestions for the proposed trail, visit parkplanning.nps.gov and click on the “Hyde Farm Trail Partnership Project” link. Click “Open for Comment” on the left column and select “Hyde Farm Trail” from the documents list. Click “Comment Now” to be redirected to the comment submission form.