If you're contemplating a moderately easy tour in the southeast USA you may want to consider the Chief Ladiga and Silver comet trails in Alabama and Georgia. As anyone that has traveled the 25-mile gap between these two trails knows, it's tough! The climb over the mountain on highway Calhoun 70 will thoroughly test any strength level. If your using an off road rated bike setup for touring you may want to consider using the currently unfinished portion of the Chief Ladiga trail to bypass that hellish climb. The prior route was highway 231 from Cedartown, GA, with a turn south on Brewster Field RD, and east on Shiloh RD changing to highway Cleburne 49 in Alabama and then switching to highway Calhoun 70 into Piedmont AL where the paved portion of the Chief Ladiga trail starts. The off road bypass is to turn off highway Cleburne 49 onto Cleburne 230 where it crosses the trail only about 25 feet from the intersection. I confirmed this route information personally. Completion of the Chief Ladiga trail is scheduled for early spring 2007 so the Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet trails will be linked forming one long continuous Multi-use path.
I was sent on a mission to report progress on that section of the Chief Ladiga trail and filed the following report.
Chief Ladiga trail Cleburne County progress update.
Saturday (11/4/06) I traveled the unpaved part of the Chief Ladiga trail in Cleburne County on my Mountain bike. Contracts have been let and work is in progress to pave the final 9 miles of the trail. Three of the four bridges are completed and work is in progress on the final bridge. I crossed that bridge Saturday! New railroad ties are being installed on the steel bridge frame and it's moderately easy to walk beside your bike and transverse the bridge as long as you are very careful when stepping on the ties. There are approximately three-inch gaps between the ties so a misstep could cause you to fall and injure yourself so use extreme caution if you chose to use that bridge.
During the week construction workers may not allow you to cross it.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RIDE YOUR BICYCLE ACROSS THIS BRIDGE!
CROSS THIS BRIDGE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Heavy trucks have been using the trail to prepare it for heavy equipment and the asphalt-paving machine. This has compacted the trail and pushed down the overgrowth so you will not have any problems with spoke damage or foliage collecting on your rear derailleur. The trail is still rough so forget trying it with a road bike! You will need an off road rated Mountain or Cyclocross bike.
The cold snap we just had has brought out the fall colors and the scenery on the Cleburne county section of the trail is breathtaking! Take your camera and lower your attitude about speed, as you will want to thoroughly enjoy every mile of the scenery. This is the last chance you will get to travel this section of the trail before it's paved as completion of the trail is scheduled for early spring.