Trail marker

Preston York shows off some of the paths his company has carved into the hillside as part of the Coldwater Mountain system of bike trails.

Coldwater Mountain will get 3 miles of new trails by February to connect existing mountain bike paths to a proposed Anniston trailhead.

The Anniston City Council approved a bid for $99,295 by FlowMotion Trail Builders, an Anniston-based bike trail construction firm, at its meeting Tuesday night. FlowMotion owner Preston York said Tuesday that his crew will start as early as next week and should finish by February. A construction meeting for the new trailhead is set for January, according to Anniston recreational trail manager Marcus Tillman. Both features will be on the eastern edge of Coldwater Mountain, near Anniston, and provide easier access from downtown.

“It’s bringing the trail a mile closer to town,” York said.

The new construction includes three more trails that will push the total mileage on the mountain to 39.5 miles. Each trail has a difficulty rating from beginner to expert, though Tillman said that there’s a new focus on cyclists who are new to mountain biking.

“The thing about Coldwater Mountain is it’s really built for cyclists who already know how to ride, who understand braking, shifting and climbing,” Tillman explained. “But the berms and jumps and rock features, to a person who isn’t experienced, that’s not fun. The new trails are more beginner-friendly.”

York said there are rules governing trail difficulty: “green” courses, the easiest to ride, must have any exposed roots and rocks less than three inches off the ground, with gentler slopes. Tillman said that green courses at Coldwater are more difficult than those at some other trail systems, but the new course will be easier.

“The beginner trail is a gravity trail that you start at the top, and it’s directional; you can’t ride back up it,” he said. “But it’s a milder grade, so you’re not going to get thrown up into the air at speed.”

The trails are interconnected, and will lead back to a parking lot at the new trailhead with as many as 150 parking spaces, with plans for a pavilion, space for primitive camping and a training area for new cyclists.

Funding for the new trails came from a grant issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, with a $25,000 contribution from Anniston.

Work on bike trails at Fort McClellan should also start in January or February next year, according to McClellan Development Authority board member Freeman Fite. The 4.5-mile course will be used as a National Interscholastic Cycling Association race venue, located next to the soccer fields at the Anniston Sports Complex. Whether the course will be open year-round, outside of competitions, has yet to be decided. The board has also discussed a larger, 6.5-mile version of the trail, which will let race coordinators change the route from one event to the next.

Fite estimated that the track, a looping race course, may cost between $160,000 and $250,000, depending on the final mileage. He said that NICA events draw large enough crowds to justify the cost.

“(NICA) told me they’re expecting for this spring’s races an average of 2,500 people per race,” Fite said. “We’ll bring them further north from Coldwater Mountain and into town.”

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.