An old proverb says, “A trip of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” The realization of a cross-county rail trail in Newton County has started with a 900-foot step in Porterdale.
In December, the City of Porterdale cut the ribbon on the Yellow River Path, the first segment of its multi-use trail along the alignment of the old railroad track in downtown Porterdale, officially giving Newton County its first rail trail.
While a segment of the same rail line, the Yellow River Path is not part of Newton Trails' proposed 15-mile, rail trail project running from Covington to Mansfield and Newborn. The Porterdale segment falls within the boundary of the city-owned Yellow River Park. Ultimately, the City of Porterdale envisions the Yellow River Path eventually encircling the town and connecting with the proposed rail trail; adding an additional two miles to the project.
Currently, the new 12-foot-wide, concrete trail section begins at the historic Porterdale Depot and extends westward toward the “old smokestack” where it intersects the existing 8-foot wide, concrete Loop Trail around the old baseball field in the Yellow River Park. The Loop Trail was built by Newton Trails in 2006. All together, Porterdale trail users now have access to a one-mile loop encompassing the newly-paved Yellow River Path and Loop Trail along with the natural surface Big Tree Trail and Wetland Trail along the Yellow River.
The Yellow River Path segment was constructed at a cost of approximately $40,000. Eighty percent of the project was funded by a federal Recreational Trails Grant administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Porterdale funded the 20 percent match with SPLOST funds.
With this latest addition, and in combination with the existing kayak launch, picnic area, and fishing areas, the Yellow River Park now provides for a full range of outdoor activities. Even so, further improvements are planned. An 18-hole disc-golf course is being studied along with other trail extensions and improvements throughout the 30+ acre park.
On January 18, for this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the energy of two dozen volunteers was focused on the newly paved trail. Coordinated by Newton Trails, enthusiastic trail supporters cleared decades of accumulated trash, debris, and undergrowth to enhance the scenic view from the trail to the wetland forest beyond.
Like Newton Trails, Porterdale's commitment to trail development is a result of the increasingly-recognized finding that trails improve quality of life and create an opportunity for healthier living. Trails also increase adjacent property values, promote economic development, and preserve greenspace corridors for wildlife.
We look forward to future workdays on the Yellow River Path as well as continuing trail development in Porterdale. If you’re interested in volunteering on this or another trail, stay tuned for notices on the Newton Trails website, Facebook page, and newsletter.