A proposed new hiking trail that will link Bristol in Liberty County with Chattahoochee in Gadsden County could bring a significant economic impact to areas both east and west of the Apalachicola River.
Two Egg TV’s Rachael Conrad attended a public hearing on the proposal and provides an in depth look at what it could mean:
The proposed route of the Chattahoochee to Bristol (C2B) Trail includes some of the most remarkable views in Florida along with such rare trees and plants as the Florida Torreya and the Florida Yew. The trail would link to existing trails at Torreya State Park and the Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve.
The Apalachee Regional Planning Council and Chattahoochee Main Street hosted a public hearing on the proposed trail on May 22nd. Among other key points, those present learned that the trail could be the start of a major system of trails that would link Liberty, Gadsden, Jackson and Bay Counties.
Suggestions were made for refining the proposed route of the trail to avoid flood-prone areas and to provide better vistas.
Several hunters asked what impact such a trail might have on hunting season in the area. They were told that any impact would be minimal because most hikers avoid trails during hunting season or make sure to wear orange so they can be seen.
Most of those attending agreed with Ben Chandler of Chattahoochee Main Street, who believes the proposed 20-mile trail will bring low impact tourism to the community.
He feels nature-oriented tourism will generate a good economic impact without damaging the pristine natural resources of the upper Apalachicola River or the peaceful charm of communities along the route.
Rett Daniels, Director of Parks in Jackson County, agreed. He said the effort to route the Florida National Scenic Trail from the top of the Chattahoochee to Bristol Trail into Jackson County could provide a solid economic impact for rural communities.
Daniels said that the effort would require strong support from community members and would take several years to complete.
The final decision rests with the U.S. Forest Service, which supervises the Florida National Scenic Trail.