The National Park Service is seeking public comment to evaluate whether to allow mountain bike use on the Jackson Gap Trail and the upper section of the John Smartt Trail in the Lookout Mountain Battlefield, within Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Comments on an environmental assessment evaluating the potential impacts of this action can be submitted electronically from May 6 to June 4, at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/chch
The park completed a General Management Plan Amendment for the Lookout Mountain Battlefield in September, 2014. Among the long-term goals articulated in this plan, the preferred alternative proposed allowing bicycle use on a 2-mile segment of the Jackson Gap and John Smartt hiking trails.
“During the planning phase, we heard strong public support for increasing appropriate recreational access on Lookout Mountain, consistent with our mission to protect natural and historic resources,” stated Park Superintendent Brad Bennett. “This proposed conversion, if implemented, would allow visitors to connect from an existing bike trail in the park to a growing regional bicycle trail linking Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia.”
After analyzing public comments on this environmental assessment, the National Park Service would need to determine that there are no significant environmental impacts from allowing bicycle use on these trails and that this use is consistent with the protection of the park’s natural, scenic, and aesthetic values, safety considerations and management objectives, and would not disturb wildlife or park resources. These determinations would be necessary to support a subsequent rulemaking process described in the environmental assessment that would designate the two miles of existing trail as a route open to bicycle use.