9/27/2023 – Article submitted by volunteers Joaquin Friedman, Wasim Alam, Jonas Freck

An ensemble of students composed of volunteers from the Environmental Stewardship Club and Mountain Biking Club have been working to establish a mixed-use nature trail next to IA. Traveling in a straight line from the Engineering Wing, you can find the trailhead, or start of the trail, signified by a sign and map placed right next to IA’s beehives.

The 0.6-mile route takes you down and around the retention pond, through a 180-degree turn that’s a blast to ride on a mountain bike. You then travel down a wooden bridge – constructed in late 2022 by volunteers from the Environmental Stewardship Club.

Crossing the auxiliary soccer field, you’ll find the second section, which is longer and under tree cover. This is a wonderful spot for dog-walking, as it’s very flat and wide open. Beyond that, a tree-lined narrow path will take you around the decommissioned baseball field and up a small hill, past the primary baseball field and back to the auxiliary soccer field. The trail then loops back to its start, following the sidewalks and school roads present.

When the team originally ventured out into the forest by the school, it was filled with garbage left behind by the old Milton High School – the result of a haphazard deconstruction without any plan for resource extraction and without any consideration for the environment. The team spent the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year clearing tires, concrete, metal poles, fencing, lacrosse balls, and more. Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, gradual progress was made regarding large object removal, bridge construction, and path-setting. In the summer of 2023, as well as in September, the team made a strong push to finish what they had begun, finally making the trail fully traversable and suitable for walkers as well as bikers. Recently, multiple events have been hosted on the trail – including a competition to set the fastest mountain bike time on the route: a record now held by Shenlin Buchanan in 12th grade. You can find a POV video of his run here:

The team of volunteers now focus their efforts towards maintaining the grounds while continuing to improve the trail. This includes building a doggy-bag dispenser out of reclaimed scrap metal found during earlier cleanup efforts. They are working on publicity; making sure this trail is known and available to everyone in the local community is also a priority. They hope to foster a sense of conservation and outdoor recreation in the local community, where students and Alpharetta residents have a chance to be outside and connect closer to the environment. Students can also gain hands-on learning and community service opportunities volunteering on the trail. We hope to see you on the trail soon! Attached below are socials and more photos.

Mountain Biking Club: https://www.instagram.com/ia_mtbclub/

Environmental Stewardship Club: https://www.instagram.com/iaenvironmental/

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