The Long Branch segment is 5.6 miles long and includes the scenic Lula Lake and Lula Falls areas.
The trail, which comes after many years of planning, is now a public-private partnership between Lula Lake Land Trust and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Mike Pollack worked as project manager for the trail and is one of the board members for the Lula Lake Land Trust.
“When you put together a trail like this, with a northern terminus and a southern termi-nus, magnetic things happen as soon as you establish this trail. Other groups want to connect to this trail,” Pollack said.
Pollack mentioned “possible connections with Chattanooga Greenway Systems, and a trail out of Walker County called the Durham Rail Line,” in addition to several other trails.
Pollack recently spoke to the crowd of more than 100 who gathered for the official trail opening, recounting the assistance of Bruz Clark, who was instrumental in building the shel-ters with volunteer help.
Volunteers spent 10 Saturdays, totaling hundreds of hours over the past year, working on the timber-frame construction of the two picnic shelters.
Elliott Davenport gave a brief history of the land trust and his father’s 1994 decision to preserve 800 acres, which began the Lula Lake Land Trust prior to Robert Davenport’s death.
An additional 7,000 acres was added over the next 14 years, according to Davenport.
“Our future will be in conserving, but in addition it will be about recreation,” Davenport said.
The Cloudland Canyon Connector trail starts at Nick-A-Jack Road, then heads to Ga. 157, into an old coal mining area called the Durham mines, also known as Five Points.
Eventually it will head down Lookout Mountain into the Ascalon section, and across Ga. 189, ending at the Back Country Trailway in Cloudland Canyon State Park, for a total of 14 miles of trails, according to Pollack.
A few local trail runners have already tested out the course prior to completion.
“The Boonies have done it,” Davenport said. “ They are delightfully crazy people. They run 64 miles in one race.”
The trailhead off of Nick-A-Jack Road features a covered picnic area, changing areas, and a privy for when nature calls.
The trail is not just for hikers — it is designed for multi-use, including mountain biking and riding horses. Hunting and motorized recreation are, however, prohibited.
The DNR will have a visible presence at the new site.