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Lanier displaying a map of property for the new trail

Hiking trail could become major attraction

By Michael Butler

There is a vast expanse of approximately 5,500 acres on Highway 229 between Kent and Martin Dam that is a hidden treasure.

"We're going to have a spectacular trail right here in Elmore County," said Jimmy K. Lanier of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association. "We have partnered with Forever Wild Lands Trust on the Yates' property.

"The property was almost lost. Some of the big real estate companies were going to develop it. It's as pretty as any place on Lake Martin."

Lanier said that the trail is where a six-mile railroad spur was built off of the Tallassee/Eclectic railroad in 1913.

"This railroad bed goes through some of the most beautiful country anywhere. We're going to open up a trail on that old railroad bed from Gold Mine Road at Martin Dam down to Kent. It's going to be approximately five miles long."

In addition, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge east of the Mississippi River will be constructed over Chanahatchee Creek. It will be 370 feet long.

"It will be built this coming winter," Lanier stated. "We're in negotiations with a land owner to buy the northern part."

The property is accessible now but not marked with directional signage. "That's what we do when we open a trail. We're going to make sure that people don't get lost."

Lanier added that there will also be a riverside park with picnic tables. Work on the trail should begin within a few weeks. He hopes the trail will be complete by next spring.

"We will have people in the community that will do some shuttles," said Lanier. "You'll leave your vehicle at Martin Dam. They pick you up and bring you back to Kent and let you hike."

Lanier founded the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association. He has hiked over 800 miles on the Appalachian Trail. He has also hiked across Spain and climbed many mountains. He continues to hike about three times per week.

"One day I was up at Overlook Park and there were cars everywhere. It was a hiking group from Birmingham, 32 people. They said they would rather hike our trails than they had Oak Mountain.

"It's especially going to be good for Tallassee and Eclectic because people come in from all over the southeast. They're going to come right through Tallassee and Eclectic."

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