20th American Trails National Symposium

Chattanooga, Tennessee ~ November 14-17, 2010

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arrow See THINGS to REMEMBER for Mobile workshops


Friday, November 12 & Saturday, November 13


Coordinated by American Trails and Beneficial Designs, Inc., proud members of the National Trails Training Partnership

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The Universal Trail Assessment Process and the High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process are inventory processes that provide objective information about trail conditions (e.g. grade, cross slope, width). The information obtained through an assessment can be used by land managers to enhance the safety and enjoyment for trail users (by providing accurate, objective information about trail conditions). The information obtained can also be used in monitoring environmental impacts on the trail, preparing budgets, developing maintenance and construction plans, and indentifying potential access barriers.

The two-day workshop combines classroom and practical, hands-on trail assessment experience to ensure that participants have the skills and confidence to conduct assessments.


Saturday, November 13


SABCH: Building Horse Trails the Right Way ~ Trail Building Project at Enterprise South Nature Park

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Members of the Southern Appalachian Back Country Horsemen (SABCH) will teach volunteers how to safely and effectively plan and build a horse trail. SABCH assists the various government and private agencies in the establishment and maintenance of trails and other backcountry resources to ensure that public lands remain open to recreational use. Enterprise South Nature Park is a newly opened 2800-acre natural area situated in the heart of Hamilton County. It features walking paths, hiking and biking trails, and miles of paved roads suitable for road biking. Plans call for up to 12 miles of equestrian trails around the perimeter of the property.  The terrain is hilly and wooded. Trail building may include bridge building, erosion control measures, parking areas, and signage. Participants are required to wear boots and gloves.  Participants will be treated to a cookout at the end of the day.

Leader: Gina Hatler, Public Relations Manager, Hamilton County Government


Paddle the Tennessee River Blueway through the Tennessee River Gorge

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Enjoy one of the most scenic river trips in the region as you paddle from downtown Chattanooga to Raccoon Mountain, about 20 miles downstream, on the majestic Tennessee River. Along the way, enjoy the sites of downtown, and Moccasin Bend National Archeological District (added to the National Park System in 2003). Then paddle through the forested walls of the gorge along Williams Island, Lookout Mountain, and Prentice Cooper State Forest. Peak fall foliage is typically early November, so chances are good for a colorful display of leaves. Learn how local partnerships helped develop a 47-mile water trail on the Tennessee River and how to address management issues. Enjoy your picnic lunch on the banks of the Tennessee River. Skill level is moderate and above. Suitable clothing is suggested, including shoes that can get wet and layers of non-cotton clothes such as fleece and polypropelene to help stay warm. Note: this workshop could be re-arranged or cancelled depending on river flow and/or weather.

Leaders: Ruth Thompson, Outdoor Chattanooga, and Jeff Duncan, National Park Service Rivers,
Trails & Conservation Assistance Program


Eco-Tour Cave Trek

Raccoon Mountain Cave is a natural limestone cavern that has been nationally recognized as being one of America’s finest caves. It is noted for its incredible variety of passageways, large waterfalls, diverse formations, abundant fossils, and spectacular scenery. The wild cave portion of Raccoon Mountain cave does not have electric lights and is presented in its natural state. Your cave tour will emphasize safety, ecology, and proper caving technique. Not surprisingly, this expedition is regarded by many as being one of the most challenging and rigorous in this part of the country. Participants on the guided tours are required to wear helmets, lights, pads, and gloves, all of which are provided for your use.
You will experience the challenge of a vast network of underground chambers, canyons, and tunnels requiring you to walk, crawl, and climb over, under, and through a rugged maze of varying rock formations. The tour will remain underground for approximately 3 hours, giving you plenty of time to explore the inner areas of the vast cave system. You will get dirty! Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and close toed shoes and be prepared to bring an extra set of clothes and shoes.  Price includes equipment (lights, helmets, pads and gloves) and professional guide.


Sunday, November 14



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Developed by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI), the ATV RiderCourse is an exciting, enlightening outdoor adventure for anyone interested in learning to ride an ATV. During this training you will practice at an approved site under the supervision of a licensed ATV RiderCourse Instructor. You will learn how to do a proper pre-ride inspection, ride in a variety of conditions, and negotiate obstacles. You’ll also get the latest information on protective gear, local laws about ATV use, and finding places to ride in your area. Everyone receives the ATV RiderCourse Handbook to take home. An ATV and helmet will be provided for your use during the training.

Leader: Steve Pitts, ASI Chief Instructor & Paul Lundsford, ASI Instructor


Trail Tools Equipment Expo

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Vendors will demonstrate equipment, tools, and materials used in construction, maintenance, and signing of trails at this popular offsite field trip. Following the Trail Tools Equipment Expo, vendors will have the opportunity to showcase their products at the conference site, and to discuss their products with interested Symposium participants. The Equipment Expo is designed to move one step further and allow vendors to actually show Trail Tools at work! And, attendees will be able to test drive equipment. Exhibits will include trail building machines, excavators, lawnmowers, and lots of things in between! The site has a grass and dirt surface.


South Chickamauga Creek Whistle Stop Tour

The South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance, a citizen advocacy group, invites you to hear the stories and take a look at key sites where their actions have made a difference in protecting the watershed. This 435 square mile watershed extends into Georgia through numerous types of habitats from rural to urban residential and industrial. It contains a key Eastern flyway for waterfowl and is home to an endemic colony of snail darters along with the endangered Chickamauga crayfish. This is an easy travelling tour although there will short easy greenway walks at some sites.

Leader: Sandra Kurtz and members of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway


Canoe/Kayak Lookout Creek

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This workshop will feature one of Chattanooga’s newest water access points on Lookout Creek.  Explore Chattanooga Nature Center’s recently constructed Paddler’s Perch, an elevated cabin that sits alongside historic Lookout Creek and available for overnight camping. Check out the handicap accessible boat launch designed to make paddling enjoyable for everyone. Then take a peaceful paddle along Lookout Creek in tandem canoes. While on the two-mile float you will learn about the wildlife you may see along the river.This portion of Lookout Creek is largely backwater from the Tennessee River and generally tranquil like a lake. Personal floatation devices (PFD’s) provided. This is a handicap accessible workshop and suitable for all skill levels. Suitable clothing is suggested, including shoes that can get wet and layers of non-cotton clothes such as fleece and polypropelene to help stay warm. Note: this workshop could be re-arranged or cancelled depending on river flow and/or weather.

Leader: Tina Crawford, Chattanooga Nature Center


Bike the Tennessee River Walk

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Take a bike ride along the Tennessee River and learn why they call Chattanooga the “Scenic City.” As you ride, learn how the Tennessee Riverwalk came to be. Departing from downtown Chattanooga, the ride will begin and end at the 21st Century Waterfront, then travel north along the Tennessee River through a variety of scenic terrain, including the historic Walnut Street Bridge, the Bluff View Arts District, Amnicola Marsh and the Tennessee River Park. It’s a ride that will inspire and energize you to return home with your own vision for how trails can transform a community. The Tennessee Riverwalk is a short 10-minute shuttle ride from the Convention Center. The bike tour is approximately 20 miles roundtrip primarily along gentle grades and paved surfaces, a moderate + fitness level required.

Leaders: Ruth Thompson, Events and Marketing Coordinator, Outdoor Chattanooga and Philip Pugliese, Chattanooga Bike Coordinator, Outdoor Chattanooga.


Cloudland Connector Mountain Bike Ride

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Mountain bike North Georgia’s newest mountain bike trail, the Long Branch Trail, part of a conservation and recreation project known as the “Cloudland Connector.” What will ultimately connect Cloudland Canyon State Park and the Lula Lake Land Trust on Lookout Mountain, this new mountain bike and hiking trail is approximately 11 miles roundtrip. Learn how a public/private partnership between the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), the State of Georgia, and Lula Lake Land Trust helped secure the land and make this project a reality. Rated for moderate or experienced mountain bikers only. It’s about a 45-minute van ride from the convention center.

Leaders:  Minya James, Recreation Specialist at Outdoor Chattanooga, with support from the area Southern Off-Road Bicycle Associations and Lula Lake Land Trust.


4WD Excursion to Prentice Cooper State Forest

Spend the day learning about the challenges facing Tennessee’s Off-Highway Vehicle enthusiasts while riding along with the Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Association on a full day trip. TOHVA will provide a full day excursion with accommodations for 22 people to ride as passengers in 4x4 type vehicles on State Forest designated roads. Allowances will be made for individuals who bring their own ATV’s, ROV’s and OHM’s (helmets are required).  Beginners welcome, but anticipate a bumpy, dusty ride. At the lunch break, OHV4TN will lead a discussion on past and present legislative issues and the road ahead for OHV in Tennessee and the country.  Prentice Cooper State Forest is located in southeastern Tennessee, in Marion County. The forest is approximately 10 miles west of Chattanooga and situated on the scenic Tennessee River Gorge.

Leaders: Iva Michelle Russell, Tennessee Off-Highway Vehicle Association (TOHVA) and OHV4TN.


Cumberland Trail State Park Hike

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Put on your hiking shoes and stretch your legs on Tennessee’s first linear state park, the Cumberland Trail. Approximately 30 minutes from the convention center by van, the Possum Gorge segment of the Cumberland Trail will offer gorgeous fall scenery, waterfalls, and interesting rock formations through Big and Little Possum Creek Gorges. Learn about plans to   complete the 300-mile trail and how trail supporters won the court battle to stop rock harvesting along the trail. The Cumberland Trail is also part of the proposed Great Eastern Trail, an idea that is taking shape to create a trail from southern Alabama to Lake Champlain in New York.  The CT also was the first in the country to receive Transportation Enhancement funding through a provision in the TEA-21 law that allowed states to transfer ½ percent of the Surface Transportation Funds to another program, which allowed the State to transfer funds to RTP as well as using enhancement funds for viewshed preservation.

Still a work-in-progress, the Cumberland Trail will pass through 11 Tennessee counties and numerous communities on the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau. In addition to providing quality outdoor experiences and supporting tourism, the trail brings opportunities for conservation education and the protection of natural and cultural resources. The Cumberland Trail brings watershed and viewshed protection, greenway corridors, and wildlife conservation to this rich ecological region. Hike is approximately five miles of moderate to strenuous terrain. 

Leaders: Don Deakins, Tennessee Trails Association, Andy Wright, Tennessee State Parks, and Tony Hook, Cumberland Trail Conference


Horseback Riding at Mystery Dog Ranch

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Participants will enjoy a cookout for lunch and an afternoon of riding at the Mystery Dog Ranch in North Georgia, just ten miles from the convention center. Certified instructors will provide a brief lesson including grooming, tacking up, and riding the horse.  Participants will ride on a 160 acre farm of trails and open meadows. Safety is key and all ages and abilities are welcome. There is a maximum of 30 participants and the maximum weight allowance is 225 pounds. Suitable for beginner riders who would like to become familiar with horses and horseback riding.

Leader: Gina Hatler, Public Relations Manager, Hamilton County Government




Tuesday, November 16


Pathways for Play®: Explore Best Practices & Playful Innovations for Children and Families

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Discover a whole new way to get children and families outdoors on the trail! This interactive mobile workshop will provide hands-on opportunities to explore best practices with an interdisciplinary team of professionals dedicated to increasing children's outdoor play opportunities, supporting child development, and promoting community health through play. Be a part of this one-of-a-kind experience as we "play along the way" of one of America’s first PlayTrail® initiatives at Riverpoint of the Chattanooga Riverwalk. Participants will preview playful innovations that uniquely engage children, families, and communities in meaningful play.


Trail of Tears Interpretive Urban Hike

The Trail of Tears, a National Historic Trail, is an integral part of the nation’s history. Southeast Tennessee was the site of the beginning of the Trail of Tears, and the Chattanooga waterfront is home to Ross’s Landing, the site of the launch of the water trail portion of the Trail of Tears. Take an urban hike along several of Chattanooga’s Trail of Tears sites. Your expert guides will take you back in time to 1838 as you walk from Orchard Knob to Indian Springs and Citico Creek campsites. Then follow the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Greenway to the Chattanooga Riverwalk and Ross’s Landing, where Native Americans began their journey by boat to Oklahoma. Participants will take the CARTA shuttle back to the Convention Center, approximately three miles through an urban landscape that includes sidewalks and non-paved trail surfaces. Be prepared for minor grade changes and crossing curbs and railroad tracks. 

Leaders: Jim Ogden, Historian, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and Dr. Daryl Black, Executive Director, Chattanooga History Center


Walking Tour of Chattanooga’s Newest Park – Stringer’s Ridge

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Chattanooga’s success story is due in large part to a community-wide change in attitude. Once a community overwhelmed with air and water pollution, the community rallied during the 1980’s to change the image of the city. Today Chattanooga is a model of conservation success. Learn how the city continues to preserve what makes Chattanooga special through the recent acquisitionof a new park on Stringer’s Ridge, which frames the northern skyline of downtown with a series of hills. Threatened by development, the Trust for Public Land took the lead in helping preserve a 92-acre site that covers four hilltops along Stringer’s Ridge. Stretch your legs while you learn about the campaign to save Stringer’s Ridge, the challenges of fundraising in tough economic times, and plans to develop a public park that will provide new public hiking and mountain biking opportunities close to downtown. Participants will hike for about an hour and a half at a leisurely pace over moderately hilly terrain. Expect single track trail, a few rocky sections, a couple of good climbs and spectacular views of downtown Chattanooga.  

Leader: Rick Wood, Director of the Tennessee Office, Trust for Public Land


Urban Sea Kayak Excursion

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Explore the renaissance of Chattanooga’s waterfront by kayak. This workshop will take participants on an urban adventure, exploring McClelland Island by foot, and paddling around Chattanooga’s most recognized landmarks. Learn how Outdoor Chattanooga, a program of the City of Chattanooga’s Parks and Recreation Department, began and how it is providing outdoor recreation opportunities to the community. Visit the newly renovated Outdoor Chattanooga offices in Coolidge Park, a LEED Silver certified building, and learn about the programs and innovated ways the “OC” makes Chattanooga an outdoor community. The Tennessee River is navigated by barge and motorized boat traffic. This workshop is suitable for individuals who are comfortable in a canoe or kayak and have previous river paddling experience.  After arrival in North Chattanooga there is a short walk to the Outdoor Chattanooga facilities.  Suitable clothing is suggested, including shoes that can get wet and layers of non-cotton clothes such as fleece and polypropelene to help stay warm. Note: this workshop could be re-arranged or cancelled depending on river flow and/or weather.

Leader: Outdoor Chattanooga


A Mountain Bike Success Story – Raccoon Mountain Walking Tour

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Several years ago, mountain biking opportunities close to Chattanooga were hard to come by.   Through the hard work and sweat of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), a regional affiliate of IMBA, the local chapters worked hard to create a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority that opened up a whole mountain of opportunities for mountain bike enthusiasts.

This tour will take a van to Raccoon Mountain to see first hand the success of SORBA’s efforts. Short hikes will show participants how an agreement was developed that allowed single track trails to be established just a few short miles from downtown. Also, learn about the use of new technologies on the site to count riders. Expect to hike about 2 miles total on rolling terrain with moderate grade changes on a natural, single-track trail surface.

Leaders: SORBA Chattanooga


Downtown Chattanooga by Bike


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  • Date: Tuesday, November 16
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Cost: $15 / $30 with bike rental (includes box lunch)
  • Learn about an innovative program led by Outdoor Chattanooga to get people moving by bike.  This tour of downtown will provide participants with an understanding of Chattanooga’s mobile bicycle fleet program, and making bicycles available to downtown employees. Explore downtown bicycle friendly features while learning about our Bike-to-Work, Bike-to-School, and Pedal Power programs that are increasing the use of bicycles and promoting a healthy lifestyle in our community. This workshop is ideal for individuals who are comfortable on a road bicycle in an urban setting.  The tour will take numerous stops and breaks to show off sites such as the Tennessee Riverwalk, Coolidge Park on the North Shore and the trendy new South Side area.  Participants are required to wear a helmet. If you bring your own bike, be sure to bring a helmet. 

    Leader: Philip Pugliese, Chattanooga Bicycle Coordinator, Outdoor Chattanooga


    Chattanooga’s Waterfront Renewal Story

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    Tour the Chattanooga waterfront from both sides of the river as you are guided on a walk along Chattanooga’s waterfront. Learn how Chattanooga transformed the once dilapidated waterfront into a tourism engine, including visits to the 21st Century Waterfront, Ross’s Landing, the Passage, the Walnut Street Bridge, Coolidge Park, the Chattanooga Outdoor Center, and Renaissance Park. The walk is approximately 1.5 to two miles of walking on paved or wood planked surfaces with minimal grade changes. Expect exceptional views and opportunities for photographs along this scenic tour. This tour is a must for any first time visitor to Chattanooga. Participants will take a shuttle to and from the waterfront. 

    Leaders: Jim Bowen, CARTA


    How Art Inspires A Trail Community

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    See how Chattanooga uses trails as the backdrop for amazing art by taking a walking tour of the Chattanooga waterfront to the Bluff View Arts District. This walking tour will begin with a shuttle to downtown Chattanooga near the waterfront, and highlight artwork and sculptures along the way. The walk will include a visit to The Passage, a public art project developed by five Cherokee artists from Oklahoma. The project symbolizes the historic Trail of Tears, the path Cherokees took when they were forced to relocate from Chattanooga and other cities in the east.  Participants will take a shuttle to and from the Chattanooga waterfront for this walking tour, approximately a 1.5 to two mile walk. The tour route will be primarily along paved sidewalks and greenway segments.  One or two of the art exhibits require the ability to navigate stairs. A special elevator is available for persons unable to walk the steep grade to the Bluff View Arts District. 


    Mountain Bike Ride Down the Guild-Hardy Trail

    Enjoy a downhill mountain bike ride on the Lookout Mountain Guild-Hardy Trail, a walking and biking trail located on the side of scenic Lookout Mountain that winds through National Park Service land and the Reflection Riding Arboretum. The Guild-Hardy Trail travels through forested mountain slopes littered with historic ruins, runs along Ruby Falls, and the historic Cravens House. Scenic views of fall foliage and the Chattanooga valley will not disappoint. The Guild-Hardy Trail has a gravel surface with several wood planked bridges and suitable for those who are comfortable on a bicycle, but may not have much experience on a mountain bike. Trail is approximately five miles. Learn how the Lookout Mountain Conservancy worked with the Trust for Public Land to develop this rail-to-trail and their challenges to maintain it and manage the many utility easements along the corridor.

    Leaders: Minya James, Outdoor Chattanooga and Robin Carlton, Director, Lookout Mountain



    Wednesday, November 17 & Thursday, November 18


    American Trails Adaptive Paddling Workshop

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    American Trails is proud to offer the Water Trail Assessment and Adaptive Paddling Workshop. This new course is designed to help water trail managers and outfitters improve opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy water trails. The workshop includes a half day indoor instruction, followed by a half day of on-the-water training in adaptations and programmatic access.



    Thursday, November 18 & Friday, November 19


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    Rock Work Course

    This 2 day intensive rock work course will focus on assessing entrenched trails for stone steps (3 types of steps) and sidehill locations for stone cribbing. We will discuss the tools needed for installing these types of stone structures and the methods for installing each type of step and stone structure. This will be a hands-on workshop and each participant will assist in step installation.  Please bring work gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy leather hiking/work boots. Workshop leader: Peter Jensen with Jensen & Associates.


    THINGS to REMEMBER for Mobile workshops

    Schedule subject to change; be sure to current information above when you register

    1. The weather in Tennessee in mid-November is generally pleasant, with daily temperatures of 38-61 degrees. But as we say in Tennessee, just wait a minute and the weather will change, so plan for warm or cold conditions by dressing in layers. Snow is not unheard of this time of year in Chattanooga, but quite rare. Rain gear is highly recommended. But chances are you will get to see some spectacular sunny weather to fully enjoy the area’s fall colors. Sturdy walking or hiking shoes are recommended for all outdoor events. For canoeing and kayaking trips, please wear quick-drying fabrics (no cotton) and wear shoes that can get wet. As with any of our river trips, you could get wet and you may get soaked. Most trips will take place regardless of weather conditions.

    2. Pack sunscreen and insect repellent (ticks, mosquitoes, and chiggers may still be around).

    3. The capacity of workshops is limited and they will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We will not be able to provide refunds or substitutions after October 22, 2010.

    4. Workshops are subject to cancellation if a minimum number of participants is not met. If applicable, a full refund will be issued. Refunds will be issued within 30 days after the Symposium.

    5. Transportation to and from workshops will be provided from the Chattanooga Convention Center, and transportation costs are included in the workshop fees. Private vehicles will not be permitted as transportation to a mobile workshop, unless otherwise noted.

    6. Bottled water will be provided at all outings, but you should bring a means to carry it, such as a fanny pack or backpack. Lunch for pre-conference workshops (if included) and for all Tuesday afternoon workshops will be a box lunch that you will pick up in a designated area.

    7. Surfaces vary from paved walkways to natural surface trails. Before registering, please note difficulty and accessibility descriptions in the workshop narratives and plan accordingly. If you have any special needs, please advise us at the time of registration so we may provide reasonable accommodations.

    8. If you are participating in a road bike, mountain bike, or equestrian event, you are welcome to bring your own helmet. ALL RIDERS ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR A HELMET. Likewise, bikers are welcome to bring your own bike and pedals and kayakers may bring their own trip leader approved personal floatation devices (PFD). Please note on your registration if you are bringing your own bike, horse, kayaks, or canoes so that we can fully accommodate the requests received.

    9. All mobile workshop participants must fill out and sign a release of liability form. These will be provided by American Trails. Additional liability release forms may be required by the mobile workshop equipment and guide providers.

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