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Plans for Hi-Lo Trail for bikers, walkers, rolling along
Community meeting scheduled for July 17
Cyclists on street tour
Cyclists ride on a quiet city street that may be part of the proposed Georgia Hi-Lo Trail. (Submitted photo.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald

Plans for the proposed Georgia Hi-Lo Trail are moving forward. The trail, which will generally follow roads and streets off busy highways, meander along abandoned railways, will eventually connect rural Georgia from Athens through Savannah and on to Tybee Island.

About 28 miles of the trail will go right through Effingham County. The completed project, though, is about six years away.

A community meeting open to the public has been planned for July 17, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Guyton Gym, 505 Magnolia St., in Guyton. Members of the public will be invited to share their ideas about the proposed trail. An interactive map can be seen here: A survey will be available on the site from July 10-Aug. 3.

Planners are hoping the trail will be an alternative means of bike or foot transportation – especially for those shorter in-town trips to a grocery store, taking the kids to school, and maybe even a job site.

“Guyton is excited to be a part of the Hi-Lo Trail Plan. It will bring economic benefits to our downtown businesses, provide a safe place for people to exercise, and promote connections with other communities just like ours,” said Guyton Mayor Russ Deen. “We are looking forward to the upcoming meeting and hope everyone can join us to learn more about this amazing opportunity.”

“So, then the question for Effingham in this stage that we're at, ‘Okay. Where do we go?’” said Eric Ganther, transportation planner with PATH, who was hired by Georgia Hi-Lo Trail board to create the trail. “We’ve built 330 miles of trails and the majority of those are in Georgia,” Ganther added.

Ganther explained the trail in Effingham County should meet the county’s goals while also hit the key destinations (such as Effingham County High School and the Downtown Development District) while also aligning with comparable projects in Chatham and Bulloch counties.

Hi-Lo map
The proposed Hi-Lo Trail through rural Georgia. (Submitted photo.)
The trail can be a combination of shared-use roadways – for example, working with GDOT to widen a highway to add a bike lane – or paved-over former railroad right-of-ways.

“The city of Guyton has already used some of that former railroad right of way to create a trail,” Ganther explained. “We (could) extend that trail more from Guyton to Egypt and south of Guyton toward Pineora Park. We would support that effort and continue (the trail) further south.”

As for the make-up of the trail, while it’s being developed, parts may be paved, parts may be only dirt. But the long-term goal, according to Ganther is a paved trail from Athens to Savannah – all 210 miles of it.

“One of these intermediate steps is to use the existing roadways, not the busy roadways. I don't want to be riding a bike on Georgia 17,” Ganther said. “The idea is we would want to build a trail where we were all comfortable with all of our family members and all the generations of our family, being on the trail and safely away from cars.”

The cost for the project, Ganther estimates, is “around $1 million per mile.” But much of that money can come from state grants, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), and Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) funding.

“We know that the state leaders are very interested in supporting rural Georgia, and Effingham is still rural Georgia,” Ganther added. “Once they see the public understands what it is and if the public is behind us, then the (state) leadership will be behind us.”

Ganther said PATH has received input regarding the proposed trail such as: economic development, alternative transportation, intergenerational access to biking and walking, good for physical and mental well-being, and pet walkers.

“And this one,” he added. “Families building memories.”

More information about the Georgia Hi-Lo Trail can be seen on its website at: and on its Facebook page at: