Whether it’s hiking, biking, walking, strolling, running or paddling — let’s make 2020 the year of trails in Floyd County.

The benefits of having an active and connected community are immeasurable.

There are health benefits, community appreciation benefits, environmental benefits, economic benefits and quality-of-life benefits. Connectivity is a good thing in a community and it’s something businesses wanting to attract new talent seek when looking for a place to set up shop.

Two trails, at this point coined the Redmond Trail and Mount Berry Trail, were on the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax list, but work this year marked the first physical movement forward on either of the projects.

The Mount Berry Trail will run from a trailhead behind the post office on Coligni Way, along the west bank of the Oostanaula River, out to where Big Dry Creek empties into the river. This trail is located across the river from the current Heritage Trails System and State Mutual Stadium.

A second phase of the Mount Berry Trail is planned to cross Big Dry Creek to the Armuchee Connector, and is still in the engineering process.

The Redmond Trail is also put into two phases. It continues from the terminus of the Oostanaula Levee Trail at the pump station on Avenue A to the post office in Phase One. Phase Two is planned across Martha Berry Boulevard, to follow Little Dry Creek Road into Summerville Park to a railbed that continues toward Redmond Regional Medical Center (and eventually toward Berry’s Spires development).

We’d love to see a connection to the trails on Berry College’s mountain campus as well. Imagine that as a walking, hiking and biking resource connected to the rest of the community.

And speaking of railbeds, looking at the price railroad companies want for those railbeds, they seem to think the crushed gravel in unused lines is actually made up of gold nuggets.

Part of the 2017 SPLOST would use railbeds to extend the Silver Creek trail from its current terminus across from the Floyd County Health Department on East 12th Street and continue it along an unused railroad bed to Lindale.

The trailhead is already built and ready, with an added perk for fans of trains. Earlier this month there was a ribbon-cutting for the train-viewing platform near the tracks at First Street and Maple Road.

Pavement and red clay aren’t the only trails that can benefit us. There’s the waterways the Georgia River Network refers to as water trails.

There doesn’t seem to be any concrete plan at this point for a 2017 SPLOST earmark to increase access and use of our waterways.

The voter-approved SPLOST package contained $3.6 million for soft launch sites, riverside campsites, a community boathouse, signs and an expansion of the Rome-Floyd ECO River Education Center.

We’ve seen a good bit of interest in our waterways, with kayakers, fishers and paddleboarders a common sight during our warmer months. We should be encouraging that as much as possible.

Let’s not end the focus on trails in and around Rome proper; the motivation in Cave Spring to grow some trails is there. The issue seems to be one of reach.

They’d love to connect with the Silver Comet Trail in Cedartown, which attracts approximately 2 million users a year. Although the connection project feels like it’s the 411 Connector of trails at times.

That link to the 60-plus paved miles of the Silver Comet Trail was a point of discussion this year between a group of city, county and private sector entities calling itself the Rome-Floyd Greenway Partnership.

That group met in June to discuss connectivity and how our area can better bring together neighborhoods, communities and commercial districts within our growing trail network.

Part of that possible link to the Silver Comet isn’t just a one stop stop. Cave Spring has also been working to connect the downtown area with the Pinhoti Trail between the city and Cedartown.

The problem is that Cave Spring can’t get grants for projects outside of its borders — meaning most, if not all, connectivity projects. Certainly Floyd and Polk counties can find a way to navigate any red tape and lend a hand.

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