ABOUT US: OUR MISSION
We envision vibrant, healthy, prosperous communities connected to one another and to nature via a system of greenway trails that provide recreation, transportation, and the conservation of natural resources.
To promote, develop, and sustain a connected system of greenway trails which support vibrant, healthy, and prosperous communities and the conservation of natural habitats, plants, and wildlife.
Newton County Trails, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit incorporated in 1998 to promote and develop a county-wide network of multi-use trails for pedestrians and bicyclists in Newton County, Georgia. We partner with local governments by raising private funds for trail planning, construction, and maintenance. We also provide public outreach and education to inform citizens, businesses, and civic groups about the health, economic, environmental, and benefits of a county-wide trail system.
The trail network we envision will serve as a recreational opportunity, a greenway helping to conserve natural habitats, plants, and wildlife, and a viable transportation system that connects neighborhoods, schools, parks, commercial centers, and other local and regional destinations of interest. Whether a trail means to you a place to push a stroller, walk a dog, go for a run, take a walk in the woods, observe local flora and fauna, or bike to Alabama, we all have a common interest to see our community build on the plans set in motion over a two decades ago to build a better future for Newton County residents and its natural environment.
Newton Trails believes a well-planned trail system will create a higher quality of life, providing economic, environmental, conservation, and physical and mental health benefits for our community.
In the 1990s, a committed group of local residents began advocating for a trail system from Atlanta to Augusta. They registered as a nonprofit organization called Newton County Trails, Inc. and successfully secured grant funds to build a 4.7 mile, soft-surface, multi-use trail at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center south of Mansfield.
In 1999, the Newton County Commission included a network of trails along existing roads as part of its Comprehensive Plan. In 2001 and 2002, the County secured funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation to create a system of multi-use trails, sidewalks, and bike lanes from what is now the Newton County Career Academy to the Newton County Library. Phase I is now complete and includes the Eastside Trail as well as sidewalks and bike lanes through downtown Covington along Clark and Floyd Streets.
The City of Oxford’s Trees, Parks, and Recreation Board in recent years has worked with citizens and college students on a nature trail in Oxford along undeveloped street rights of way and sewer easements. In 2005, Newton Trails opened its first hard-surface segment along the same route, extending 1/3 mile from West Clark Street to West Soule Street and behind Old Church on Wesley Street. In 2007, Newton Trails completed another half mile of the Oxford Trail, connecting it to Oxford College of Emory University and Stone Street and in 2010 extended the trail another 1,100 feet from W. Soule Street to W. Watson Street.
In August 2006, Newton Trails completed a 1480-foot loop trail along the Yellow River in Porterdale and is currently working with the city on plans for an extended Yellow River Trail and Park.
The idea for developing the Norfolk Southern rail corridor as a greenway trail originated in 1997 when the Georgia Conservancy held its first-ever Blue Prints for Successful Communities workshop in Covington. Recommendations included utilizing the then lightly-used Norfolk Southern/Central of Georgia rail corridor as part of a plan to establish a city-wide bike and walking trail system.
The 1999 Newton County master plan featured trails that incorporated the Norfolk Southern corridor. In 2000, internationally-renowned planner Andres Duany facilitated community design "charrettes"
and the firm's final plan included greenway corridors encompassing the Norfolk Southern rail corridor. A 2005 Livable Cities Initiative report also included a recommendation to develop the corridor as a trail.
In 2010, Norfolk Southern discontinued service on the line with Surface Transportation Board (STB) approval.
Norfolk Southern filed to abandon the corridor in July 2013; in August 2013 Newton Trails filed a Notice of Interim Trail Use (NITU) with the STB to prevent the abandonment and preserve the corridor.
Newton Trails continued to negotiate with Norfolk Southern, and, in late March 2016, the company signed a lease agreement with Newton Trails allowing the organization to develop and use the corridor as a public access trail. In April 2017, Newton Trails officially named the trail The Cricket Frog Trail and unveiled the trail logo at a ribbon cutting celebrating the first paved half mile of the rail trail in Covington.