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August 2019
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Rolling along - mountain bike park opens

bike group

        An enthusiastic crowd of mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, bee keepers, birders and outdoor lovers were on hand to officially dedicate the first trails at the Talking Rock Nature Preserve Saturday.


The increasingly-popular mountain bike trails in the Talking Rock Nature Preserve were officially dedicated Saturday with a ceremony on a day that also featured guided hikes and demo bikes.

Jon’s Trail was named in honor of local cyclist Jon Hudgens who died last year; another section of trails was named Nitro North and Nitro South to recognize Ken “Nitro” Nix who led the trail-building work.

The event Saturday was a dedication of the trails, but not a ribbon cutting said Bill Jones, the executive director of Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land. Jones said there are still quite a few options being explored for the 211-acre tract on Carns Mill Road, across Highway 515 from Biguns Barbecue.

Speakers said the beauty of having this privately-owned park is that any use of the park consistent with the goal of outdoor recreation on protected lands could be considered.

Jones said he has been lucky to always live near “a place to play or a place to plan.” He spoke of the positive effects going outdoors for afternoon can have on a person’s mental state, “you can think about what’s bothering you or think about your dog.”

The goal of the Talking Rock Nature Preserve is to have “a solemn place, but also a place to have fun riding bikes,” he said.

Lori Pieraerts, a cyclist and hiker, commemorated Jon Hudgens. Hudgens family members were in 

               Continued on 2B attendance for the tearful speech. Pieraerts said the important thing about mountain biking or hiking goes beyond the activity itself. She recalled the strongest bonds with cyclists like Hudgens aren’t the actual riding but all the stuff that happens before and after rides while “you are having a beer later and telling stupid stories.”

Hudgens was always gently pushing people to fulfill their potential on the many cycling, running, triathlons and other events/training days that he participated in. He rode the trail now named for him the day before his unexpected death.

Friends of Talking Rock Park President Will Tate, a native of this area, said he had learned to mountain bike in college and was disappointed to return home and realize there was nowhere to go in Pickens County. He invited the community to get involved with the park group at monthly socials and meetings. 

The next social in the park is 6 p.m. May 9th where people are invited to meet others and walk, ride, trail run, bird or participate in any other activity consistent with the low-impact nature of the park. Dinner at Biguns follows. 

The park has added an apiary for the local beekeepers club where they hold classes and help others learn about beekeeping.

Also forming is a women’s trail running group and women’s hiking group. Women interested in joining can contact the friends of the park group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Speaking on behalf of the cyclists, Terry Palmeri, the southeast associate regional director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, who is active with her husband in the North Georgia Mountain Bike Association, said this park and trails are unique in the amount of energy she sees with the people involved.

She said the North Ga. Mountain Bike club will keep the trails open and encouraged other cyclists to be involved. All maintenance is provided by the private group. 

Cartecay Bike Shop in Ellijay provided demo bikes for the day which proved popular with riders of all ability levels.

Pete Genz, another cyclist, praised Ken Nix as a quiet man who does what he says and delivered in full on these trails. STPAL director Jones added, “When you asked a craftsman to give you something good but don’t burden him with specifics you often end up with something great and that is what happened here.”

Genz thanked the park and Nix for providing what mountain bikers love, “new terrain to explore.”

More information on the park can be found at