Special recognition: Riverview Foundation. Their support has been truly transformational.
We are deeply grateful to our 2020 & 2021 sponsors. As you go about the community, please let them know how much you appreciate their support of the Firefly Trail!
Special recognition: Riverview Foundation. Their support has been truly transformational.
Kids and families in East Athens and across the whole community can get bikes checked, have fun learning bike skills, and take an easy ride on the Firefly Trail and North Oconee River Greenway during East Athens Family Bike/Ped Day Saturday, Oct. 30, at Dudley Park at the picnic and open space area near the flower sculpture.
The free event begins at 9 a.m. For 9-11 a.m., it will feature information, bike checks and minor repairs and adjustments by local bike shop mechanics, instruction on bike safety and riding skills, and opportunities to practice in nearby parking lots.
We need volunteers for this event. It will be an easy and fun and shifts are only 2 hours long. If you can help, please click here to signup to volunteer.
After bike checks and orientation, participants will be invited to walk or ride the Firefly Trail from Dudley Park to the temporary end of the trail at Hancock Road, a one-way distance of about 3.1 miles (see the route from Dudley Park to the trail’s temporary end at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/37763626). The event will end at noon.
Drinks and snacks will be available at the Firefly Trail Inc. tent near the RaceTrac service station beside the trail near Old Winterville Road and Oconee Street. In addition, coupons for a free lunch at RaceTrac will be provided to anyone riding or walking all the way out to Hancock Road and back.
“The Firefly Trail is a powerful new amenity that can help bring the East Athens community together through safe, off-road exercise and car-free transportation,” said Doug Kleiber, Firefly Trail Inc. board member and lead organizer of the event. “We’re hoping to introduce a lot of families to the trail and create a greater sense of ownership among the community.”
Partnering with Firefly Trail Inc. will be Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services, BikeAthens, Athens in Motion, East Athens Community Center, the Boys and Girls Club, North Oconee River Greenway Commission, Georgia Cycle Sport and The Hub bike shop.
Families are welcome to bring their own bikes. Mechanics will be on hand to do light work on bikes that need a little TLC, and loaner bikes will be available for practice in the parking lot. Work is underway to acquire free helmets and other bike accessories. Light refreshments will be available.
Dudley Park is located about half a mile from downtown on East Broad Street across from the University of Georgia’s Chicopee Building. Free parking will be available in the Cook & Brothers parking lot (N-1) lot. In the event of rain, organizers will hold as many activities as they safely can but the event will be rescheduled at a later date if the weather is severe. All participants are urged to follow CDC recommendations for COVID-19 safety, including wearing a mask when close to people who are not in your household.
Firefly Trail Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to foster the creation of a 39-mile rail-trail from Athens to Union Point on or near the historic corridor of the Georgia Railroad Athens Branch. Paved trail segments are now open in Athens, Winterville, Maxeys and Union Point. For more information or to get involved, visit www.fireflytrail.com.
The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department hosted a dedication ceremony and opened the newly completed section of the Firefly Trail on Friday, October 1 at 11:00 a.m. This 1.88 mile section includes the establishment of an improved surface trail for bike and pedestrian use along the historic Georgia Railroad corridor between Old Winterville Road and Hancock Road. The trail will allow for pedestrians and bicyclists alike to safely participate in activities within Athens-Clarke County without being within close motor vehicle proximity.
The Firefly Trail segments in Athens-Clarke County and the City of Winterville now include completion of 4.5 miles of the 7.9 miles of the Trail within the county. Design work for completion of the remaining 3.4 miles of Firefly Trail is under way and construction has begun on the bridge over Trail Creek. The anticipated completion date for the bridge segment is Fall 2022.
The overall vision of the Firefly Trail is a planned 39-mile rail-trail from Athens to Union Point in Northeast Georgia, connecting Athens-Clarke, Oglethorpe, and Greene Counties. The historic rail line, known as the Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad, branched off the still-active Augusta-to-Atlanta line in Union Point and passed through the towns of Woodville, Maxeys, Stephens, Crawford, Arnoldsville and Winterville on its way to Athens.
The 10th Annual Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride returns Saturday, Oct. 9, at 9 a.m., bringing an estimated 300 cyclists to roads and towns from Athens to Union Point – or Union Point to Athens – for the first time since the pandemic struck.
Also for the first time, this year’s ride will highlight completed and near-completed segments of the trail in Union Point, Maxeys, Winterville and Athens.
The Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride is a mass participation bicycle event held on paved roads close to the historic corridor of the Georgia Railroad Athens Branch. When completed, the trail will provide a safe, off-road, 39-mile facility for walking, running, cycling and other non-motorized uses through three counties and seven towns and cities.
The Oct. 9 ride is a non-competitive event for fun and awareness. It features out-and-back options ranging from a few miles up to 83 miles, with start/finish points at Jittery Joe’s Roaster in Athens, the historic Depot in Winterville, and Union Point Theatre in Union Point. Riders are treated to paved roads, beautiful countryside, friendly towns and on-road vehicle support, with restrooms, snacks and beverages every 9-10 miles.
In addition, the finish points in Athens and Union Point will host festivals from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with food for purchase, live music, beer (one free can or pour for registered riders) and door prizes.
“It’s a lot of fun for a great cause – a trail that will provide a safe, wide, off-road path that offers opportunities for better health, economic stimulus, historic and landscape preservation, and community engagement,” said Firefly Trail President Mark Ralston. “Because it flattens out most of the hills, it can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or physical ability.”
The Firefly Trail will also connect to other trails for even greater opportunities, including the growing Greenway Network in Athens and the proposed Georgia Hi-Lo Trail from Union Point to Savannah.
Volunteers are vital to the event, and numerous opportunities are available. All volunteers receive a free t-shirt. Click here to volunteer.
Click here to pre-register on Active.com.
Click here for a printable version of the registration form if you wish to pay by check and communicate by regular mail.
Adults are $40 each, students are $30, and teams of 5-12 riders can pre-register as a group for $35 each. Ride-day registration will be $45 for adults and $30 for students. Admission to the festivals is free. All proceeds from the ride benefit Firefly Trail Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping local communities build the Firefly Trail.
Here are key facts about the event:
- Online registration is open and strongly recommended at Active.com. If COVID safety permits, a rider packet pick-up event will be held at Georgia Cycle Sport, 1029 Baxter St.,
Athens, on Friday, Oct. 8, to reduce congestion on ride day.
- Day-of registration will open at 8 a.m. at all three locations.
- For COVID safety, there will be no mass starts. Riders may depart when ready after
- SAG stops will open at 8:30 a.m. in Winterville, 9 a.m. in Athens and Union Point, and
9:30 a.m. in Maxeys and Crawford. SAG stops will close after the last rider passes
- Support services will end and the course will close at 4:30 p.m.
- Riders are urged to wear a face covering in registration areas and while at the food and
beverage tables at SAG stops.
- Parking in Athens will be at Jittery Joe’s Roaster, 425 Barber St., until full. Overflow
parking will be approximately 0.5 miles away at Athens Cotton Press, 149 Oneta St.
- Parking in Winterville will be in the Pittard Park overflow lot off Parkview Road.
- Parking in Union Point will be downtown near the Union Point Theatre, 101 Fluker St.
- Firefly souvenir neck gaiters are guaranteed to riders who register before Sept. 20 and
will be available thereafter while supplies last.
- Riders must be comfortable sharing the road with motor vehicles.
- Helmets are required, and riders must obey all local and state laws.
- One-way distances are 7.7 miles from Athens to Winterville, 11.4 miles from Winterville
to Crawford, 9.7 miles from Crawford to Maxeys, and 12.7 miles from Maxeys to Union
- Volunteers driving support vehicles will patrol the course to assist participants who are
too tired to continue or have mechanical problems. SAG vehicles cannot be used as
The pace of progress on the trail continues to accelerate. Several segments are now open and will be used in the Ticket to Ride where possible:
- Athens-Clarke County – 0.8 miles, with another 1.8 miles under construction and 3.5
miles in planning. ACC is also building a 500-foot-long bridge for the trail over Trail Creek.
- Maxeys – 1.4 miles
- Union Point – 0.6 miles
Click here to download the Notes to Riders doc.
Athens to Union Point: 87.3 miles *2,926' climbing
Click here to download cue sheet
Union Point to Athens: 87.3 miles *2,979' climbing
Click here to download cue sheet
Long Route to Union Point 67.8 miles *2,095' climbing
Also includes return Routes from Crawford and from Maxeys
Click here to download cue sheet
- In partnership with the Cities of Union Point, Woodville and Maxeys, and Firefly Trail,
Inc., Greene County has secured a $2.1 million grant through the Georgia Outdoor
Stewardship Program to build about 5.9 miles of trail in Greene County, Woodville and
Union Point, and roughly 0.5 miles in Maxeys.
Riders gather at Jittery Joe's Roaster in Athens for the start of a past Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride. Close to 300 riders are expected at this year's event, with starting points in Athens, Winterville and Union Point. Live music, food trucks and locally brewed beer will be available for returning riders from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Riders in a past Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride approach Parkview Road in Winterville. As in the past, Winterville will offer a start/stop point and SAG stop at the Winterville Depot.
Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride participants enjoy snacks and conversation at the Crawford Depot.
Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride riders enjoy the SAG stop at Maxeys City Hall. This year’s ride will feature the newly completed 1.4-mile section of the Firefly Trail in Maxeys.
Firefly Trail Ticket to Ride participants enter downtown Union Point during a past event. UnionPoint is again hosting a citywide festival with live music, food trucks and beverages, including locally brewed beer.
Firefly Trail Inc. is the non-profit partner of the 2021 Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight Criterium, Saturday, Aug. 21, in downtown Athens. That means some great things for the Firefly Trail and great opportunities for you to support the trail and the Twilight!
Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of roles, from loading equipment trucks on Thursday, to helping with registration Friday and Saturday, to checking out volunteers and media after the race on Saturday night. Many positions require no heavy lifting.
You get to be behind-the-scenes at one of the biggest cycling events in the nation! How cool is that?
Even better -- for every 4-hour shift you volunteer, Twilight will donate $50 to support our work to finish the Firefly Trail!
Signing up is easy: Just go to https://www.bikereg.com/athens-twilight-volunteers and choose the position that's a good fit for you. And invite your family and friends to volunteer, too! Be sure to name "Firefly Trail" in the Club field before you click Submit.
Thank you! We hope to see you at the Twilight!
Atlanta, GA – The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Monday announced selection of nine 2020-2021 Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) “Conserve Georgia” grants for conservation and outdoor recreation projects. Among those projects advancing to the Second Level Application stage is construction of 6.75 miles of the Firefly Trail, a planned 39-mile rail-trail along and near the abandoned rail bed of the historic Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad between Union Point and Athens.
The Firefly Trail GOSP application was submitted by Greene County in partnership with the cities of Maxeys, Union Point and Woodville, Firefly Trail, Inc., and the Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association’s Athens chapter. Project partners received assistance from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission in preparing Pre-Application materials last fall.
“It has been exciting to watch the Firefly Trail project emerge through the legislative process and become a reality,” noted Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro), a strong supporter of the Firefly Trail since well before being elected to represent the citizens of Georgia House District 120 in 2014. “It is a very fine example of public and private entities working together towards an end product that will enhance the lives of many,” Rhodes continued. “It will provide health and fitness, entertainment, and economic development for years to come. I am very proud of the cooperative work that Greene County, Union Point, Maxeys, and Woodville have done to bring the Firefly Trail to life. I also want to say a special thank you and congratulations to all the volunteers who have worked many years to make this a reality.”
“Greene County is very excited about the Firefly Trail project and the outdoor recreational opportunities the trail provides to our citizens and visitors,” stated Gary Usry, Chairman of the Greene County Board of Commissioners and a member of Greene County’s Firefly Trail Local Action Committee. “We look forward to working with the DNR and all of the principal stakeholders to keep the momentum going on this project,” Usry continued, “and we are very thankful to have been selected to advance to the Second Level Application for the grant funding.”
Georgia DNR will provide $2,109,375 toward the $2.83 million project according to stipulations of the reimbursable GOSP program. Project partners have together committed to contributing $721,625 in cash and in-kind match.
The Second Level Application stage, with runs through May, will involve preparation of more detailed project plans and cost projections as well as compliance with environmental review requirements. Project agreements will be signed during the summer and the grant term will be 24 months. Greene County has enlisted the PATH Foundation to assist in completing this portion of the project. The PATH Foundation has been a key partner in the creation of several of Georgia's most significant multi-use trails, including the Silver Comet Trail and the Atlanta Beltline.
Four segments of the Firefly Trail, each approximately one mile in length, have been completed to-date in Athens, Maxeys, Union Point and Winterville. Several additional miles of trail are now under construction in Athens-Clarke County, but the GOSP award will more than double the completed trail mileage. The project's goal is to complete the trail in Union Point, Woodville and unincorporated Greene County, and extend the existing Maxeys section to that city's southern city limits.
Firefly Trail, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to promote the trail’s creation and use, has worked diligently for a full decade advocating, fundraising, working with local governments and building a network of supporters.
“All of us at Firefly Trail Inc. are ecstatic about the news,” stated FTI President Mark Ralston upon receipt of the DNR announcement. “We are ready and eager to work with our partners in Greene County, Union Point, Woodville and Maxeys to build this newest section of the Firefly Trail and begin the process of linking our existing segments together. We are deeply grateful to our partner communities, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Rep. Trey Rhodes, and want to extend a special thanks to the hundreds of trail supporters, especially the Riverview Foundation, who have made it possible for us to help our partner communities with the matching funds required by this grant. Together, we are making it happen.”
DNR’s Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program, which supports a variety of conservation and recreation projects across the state, was established by passage of the 2018 Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act (HR 238) and a Constitution Amendment supported by 83% of the electorate in the November 2018 general election. The inaugural GOSP funding cycle occurred during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Grant and loan requests for local park and trial projects, ranging from $500,000 to $3 million, are reviewed annually. Eligible applicants include qualified local governments, recreation authorities and state agencies, and certain non-governmental entities.
A total of 51 GOSP Pre-Applications, requesting a total of $81 million in funding, were reviewed by DNR staff and the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund Board of Trustees this winter. A preliminary slate of proposals was selected and passed along for review and approval by the Board of Natural Resources and the Appropriations Subcommittees of the State House of Representatives and State Senate.
In announcing the nine projects chosen to advance toward funding, DNR Commissioner Mark Williams stated, “It has never been more important than here in 2021 for Georgia to preserve and expand conservation efforts as millions of Georgians head outdoors for mental and physical health during these trying times. These grants go a long way to support this vitally important mission.”
Runners and walkers looking to save money and increase the good they do for area
communities still have time to sign up for the Firefly Trail Race Series, but not much: Registration closes with the end of the virtual Winterville Snowflake 10K on Jan. 30. The series is professionally managed by Classic Race Services and presented by Coldwell Banker Upchurch Realty, Liz & Tony DeMarco Family, Lord & Stevens Funeral Home, Fleet Feet Athens, and Greensboro Tire. It will provide competitive and recreational running and walking opportunities in towns formerly linked by the Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad. This 39-mile transportation corridor is being converted into a non-motorized rail-trail between Athens and Union Point. A safe, off-road path for walking, running, biking, skating and other non-motorized uses, the Firefly Trail will connect three counties and eight communities, offer health benefits, boost economies and bring people together.
The Firefly Trail Race Series features these events in 2021:
- Winterville Snowflake 10K, Jan. 23-30, being held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic
- Maxeys Model Mile 5K, in-person with virtual option scheduled for May 15 in downtown Maxeys
- Crawford Restoration Run 5K, in-person with virtual option, Sept. 6, at the Crawford Depot (U.S. 78)
- Union Point Junction Jamboree Jog 5K, in-person with virtual option, Sept. 25, at 206 Veazey Street
Series registration costs $70 per runner/walker, a price that works out to just $17.50 per race. Registration includes all awards, services and incentives offered by each race, including t-shirts. In addition, Classic Race Services will present awards specifically for Firefly Trail Race Series participants after the Union Point Junction Jamboree, and participants also earn points for the Black Bag Race Series.
Registration is available online at http://tiny.cc/FFTrailRaceSeriesACTIVE while mail-in registration forms are at http://tiny.cc/21FFTrailRaceSeriesReg. Contact Anne Garner (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carole Black (email@example.com) with any questions.
Mail-in registrations must be received by Jan. 20 in order to have time for processing before the Snowflake 10K. Each Firefly Trail Race Series registrant is automatically entered in all four races and will receive a confirmation email from Classic Race Services as the date of each race approaches. All registrants who take part in at least three of the four races will receive a special participation award! Race Series t-shirts will be available for pickup at the second race (Maxeys Model Mile 5K) and the two subsequent events.
"The four races that compose the 2021 series are established events," noted Anne Garner, race series co-founder and lead organizer of the Maxeys Model Mile 5K. "As the Firefly Trail progresses toward completion, we envision the race series expanding and improving. And each race in the series welcomes competitive runners as well as fitness joggers and recreational walkers of all ages."
Firefly Trail launches Year-End Challenge
NOW IS THE TIME!
Firefly Trail, Inc., needs your help to make our trail happen.
CLICK HERE to help make it happen!
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic crushed many of the plans and fundraising events for Firefly Trail Inc., in 2020. Despite this, we and our trail communities moved forward and accomplished many important milestones.
From the beautiful completion of Winterville's Model Mile, to the extension of the trail in Maxeys, to construction of the Model Mile in Union Point, we and our community partners achieved tremendous goals this year. As we plan for 2021, we need to sustain our ability to seek grant opportunities and be ready with matching funds to help our local communities in need. Now, more than ever, it is critical we stay on track with our efforts and keep the momentum moving forward. To do so, we must shore up lost funding if we are to achieve our goals for 2021.
As a result, we are launching the Firefly Trail Year-End Crowdfunding Campaign. If you give $30 and encourage 10 friends/family to do the same, we can fill the lost revenue gap due to COVID-19. Please take a look at our Year-End Challenge Crowdfunding page, donate and add your name to the list. Any amount will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for your continued support!
TOGETHER, we are building OUR trail and connecting OUR communities.
An online public meeting with ACC Leisure Services will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
Two informational in-person drop-in sessions are scheduled at Pittard Park (main picnic shelter), 115 Parkview Road, Winterville:
Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Attendees are reminded to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings. Time limits may be imposed if large numbers attend.
Details, including possible alternate routes, are at the ACC Listens website: https://www.accgov.com/leisureserviceslistens
Local governments will determine the final route.
GIVE TO FIREFLY VIA AMAZONSMILE AND KROGER
Be sure to update your Kroger Plus to designate Firefly Trail, Inc. (Organization #BJ882) as your preferred community partner!
If you're an Amazon shopper, switch to AmazonSmile and select "Firefly Trail Inc" - Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase price. Smile has the same look and prices of the regular site, and it doesn't cost you a cent.