CONYERS — Mountain bikers gathered Saturday as the South Rockdale Park Mountain Bike Trails were opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural bike rides. South Rockdale Park is located at 3909 East Fairview Road in Stockbridge.

Mountain Bike Atlanta, the local chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and Rockdale County Recreation and Maintenance worked together to build 5.5 miles of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails at South Rockdale Park in Rockdale County on the Rockdale River Trail. The master plan calls for 9 miles in future expansions.

Funding for the project was made possible with a grant from the Recreational Trails Program of the Department of Natural Resources and special purpose local option sales tax funds. The new trails connect to the Rockdale River trail system, a destination PATH project in the Davidson Arabia National Heritage area.

Rockdale County Recreation and Maintenance Director Sue Sanders said the opening is the culmination of a six-year collaborative effort between Rockdale County, MTB Atlanta, and SORBA.

“This actually began in 2013,” she said. “It has been a labor of love, a long project, and a long partnership. This has really been something that the mountain bike community has pushed, and it has really turned into a great project.

“When we first began, I didn’t really think that there was this big of a group (of mountain bikers) locally, so this is very awesome for us as the county to be able to provide a new amenity for a group that we didn’t do anything with before.”

Craig McCullough, the SPLOST Recreation Subcommittee chairman, thanked Rockdale voters for approving the SPLOST and said now that the trails are open, they need to be used.

“Like I tell anyone who comes to one of the parks,” McCullough said, “what makes a great park is how much it gets used, so folks, get on your bikes and ride!”

Brett Davidson, president of MTB Atlanta, said the opening is another link in their mission to make sure people have recreational trails or bike parks within 30 minutes of their homes.

“What we do is build and maintain trails for mountain biking and share-view (multi-use) trails,” he said. “Every project we’ve built in metro Atlanta is a share-view trail, and we’re proud of that. You can get out and mountain bike, hike, trail run, walk your dog on our trails. We’ve built and maintain 35 miles in metro Atlanta right now, with about 100 miles in development.”

Keith Worsham, vice president of the east metro chapter of SORBA, said he is glad to see the trails finally open.

“It has been a long ride — six years — but it is well worth it today,” he said. “I’m so glad to see some clearly defined trails for beginner, intermediate and advanced, so people will get out and give mountain biking a try and have a good time.”

Rockdale County Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. was just a county commissioner when the mountain bike trails project began, and said he has supported it from the beginning.

“I want to thank this whole (mountain biking) community coming out and being a part of what we are doing in Rockdale County,” Nesbitt said. “We have a very robust participation of people here in Conyers and Rockdale County who are interested in cycling and even mountain biking. I like the fact that we have a beginners’ trail. I just might be tempted to get a bicycle.

“This brings another quality of life amenity to the citizens of Rockdale County, the connectivity of bringing people into the community, getting people who are inside our community to come out and mix and mingle with other folks,” he added. “This is another opportunity to bring people out and get people moving, get people active, and get people involved in what’s happening in our community. This adds to the number of events that we’ve increased through our Parks and Recreation system.”

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.