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A river runs along it

Trail gives handicapped more access to Amicalola

POSTED: April 15, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton/

First time visitors to Dawson County, the Manarin family came all the way from Alpharetta to enjoy the new trail as a family and spend quality time together during spring break.

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Dawsonville residents Glenn and Bonnie Adams now have an easy way to bring their granddaughters fishing.

  

The Adams recently enjoyed the Amicalola Handicap Access Trail, a raised, wooden platform extending more than 2,500 feet to an observation platform at the “Edge of the World” rapids, one of the most picturesque and challenging stretches of whitewater in the region.

  

Officially completed last week, the 4-foot-wide handicap access trail meets American Disability Act standards and has a rest bench every 200 feet.

  

“We continue to get e-mails and letters from persons with handicap children and adults who are very appreciative of the trail,” said Don Wells of the Mountain Stewards, the group that built the path.

  

The project also rerouted the original trail, known as the Interpretive Trail, to connect back with the handicapped trail, Wells said. Able-bodied visitors can access the Interpretive Trail at the end of the boardwalk just past the observation platform.

  

“(Interpretive Trail) used to take hikers up to Hwy. 53 and that was too dangerous, so we spent about two weeks re-building and rerouting it to connect back with the handicap trail,” Wells said.

  

The Adams agreed that the addition of the trail has made the Amicalola a “great place to get away and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer in Dawson County.”

  

They’ll get no argument from the Manarin family of Alpharetta, who last week made their first visit to the river.

  

“It is so pretty out here and this trail makes it much more enjoyable because it’s less hazardous when you don’t have to constantly avoid big rocks and roots,” Ann Manarin said.

  

Most of the funding for the handicap access trail came from the National Recreational Trails Program, which supports the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

  

The Mountain Stewards, a nonprofit organization dedicated to opening and maintaining a network of trails and open spaces in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, designed and built the trail.

  

The project began in February 2007. All but the last 400 feet of the trail had been completed by January 2008.

  

The second phase was made possible through a $3,000 donation from the Mountain Stewards.

  

Wells said the remaining money came from a $2,000 donation from a couple in Pickens County, a $1,045 donation from the Big Canoe Hiking Club and various contributions from residents of Hall, Pickens and Dawson counties.

  

“It is a wonderful place, particularly for our handicapped people, who can’t get out in nature,” Wells said. “And now, you see people in wheelchairs and those I would call mobility challenged are out here, having just a wonderful time.”

  

E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at elizabeth@dawsonnews.com.

 

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