By David Pendered
On the heels of Earth Day, the friends group of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area highlighted the May 2 deadline for public comment on the proposed 2-mile Hyde Farm Trail in east Cobb County.
The citation in the Chattahoochee Park Conservancy’s April newsletter brings attention to a trail proposal that has received scant attention since Cobb County officials discussed it last year as part of the countywide trail planning program.
Meantime, the history of the Hyde Farm is receding into time, but the fact that this expanse of land – so close to the river – wasn’t developed is one of those rare legends in Atlanta.
There may be those who will remember seeing the former owner, J.C. Hyde, plow the land with help from his mule, Nell. Hyde wanted the land preserved and sold 40 acres to the Trust for Public Land in 1992. Two caveats were part of the deal – Hyde could farm the land until he died and, after his death, TPL would have right of first refusal on the remaining 95 acres for the next 20 years, according to a TPL statement.
Hyde kept farming that land. He died in 2008 and his heirs waged a legal fight to break Hyde’s deal for TPL to have the first chance to buy the land. TPL prevailed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta and purchased the remaining 95 acres for $14,195,000, according to the TPL statement.
The plan to establish a shared trail on part of the land continues the spirit of the 1992 transaction Hyde established with TPL. The land is now part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
The National Park Service, which oversees the area, released this month a newsletter that outlines the current conceptual plans to establish a shared trail to be named Hyde Farm Trail. Here are some highlights:
- The trail would flank the western edge of the Chattahoochee River, along a section a short distance south of Morgan Falls Park. The park is in Sandy Springs, on the east side of the river, and overlooks Bull Sluice Lake.
- Two proposed routes have been identified. These are the plans that are open for public comment through May 2.
- Under Alternative B: “NPS would improve 0.6 miles of existing social trails at Hyde Farm and 2.2 miles at Johnson Ferry North by formalizing them, adding signage in two locations, and installing four pedestrian bridges at creek crossings. The trail would begin on the former road bed and then branch off to follow a ridgeline through the woods in route to the river and the utility easement.
- “Alternative C would be similar to Alternative B but 2.6 miles of trail at Johnson Ferry North and 0.4 miles of trail at Hyde Farm would be improved; the trail would be steeper and less scenic, following a former road bed down to the utility easement and the river; and there would be five pedestrian/biking bridges installed at stream crossings.
- “Under both Alternatives, the trails would be for both walking and bicycle riding. The goal is for the trails created to be safer for visitors, benefit natural resources, be more aesthetically pleasing, and require less maintenance.”
Note to readers: Written public comments can be sent to Chattahoochee River NRA, 1978 Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, Attention: Erich Melville.