About Firefly Trail, Inc.

Firefly Trail, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) Georgia non-profit incorporated for the purpose of creating a multi-use trail from Athens to Union Point along the corridor of the historic Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad. The Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers from trail communities - dedicated individuals who are determined to make this dream become reality.

Technical support and meeting space is provided by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, with partial funding provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Firefly Trail, Inc., is developing a membership base, and currently provides an e-newsletter to members and others who request to be added to the mailing list. We are happy to answer questions, attend or speak at your organization’s event, or help you make connections with other Firefly supporters.

Get To Know Us

The Firefly Trail, Inc., Board of Directors meets the third Thursday of each month from 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, 305 Research Drive, Athens. Meetings are open to the public, but please contact us to make sure that the date and/or time have not changed prior to attending a meeting. If you would like to become involved in our board, email us at fireflytrail@gmail.com.

Health

Trails and greenways create healthy recreation and transportation opportunities by providing people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and low- or no-cost places to cycle, walk, hike, jog or skate. Trails help people of all ages incorporate exercise into their daily routines by connecting them with places they want or need to go. Communities that encourage physical activity by making use of the linear corridors can see a significant effect on public health and wellness.

Transportation/Livability

In addition to providing a safe place for people to enjoy recreational activities, greenways and trails often function as viable transportation corridors. Trails can be a crucial element to a seamless urban or regional multi-modal transportation system. Many areas of the country incorporate trails and similar facilities into their transit plans, relying upon trail facilities to "feed" people in to and out of transit stations in a safe and efficient manner. The ability to avoid congested streets and highways, and travel through natural areas on foot or by non-motorized means, is a large factor in a community's "livability."

Conservation

Linear greenspaces, including trails and greenways, have all the traditional conservation benefits of preserving green space, but also have additional benefits by way of their linear nature. As tools for ecology and conservation, greenways and trails help preserve important natural landscapes, provide needed links between fragmented habitats and offer tremendous opportunities for protecting plant and animal species. They also can be useful tools for wetland preservation and the improvement of air and water quality. In addition, they can allow humans to experience nature with minimal environmental impact.

Economy/Revitilization

The economic effects of trails and greenways are sometimes readily apparent (as in the case of trailside businesses) and are sometimes more subtle, like when a company decides to move to a particular community because of amenities like trails. There is no question, however, that countless communities across America have experienced an economic revitalization due in whole or in part to trails and greenways.

Historic Preservation/Community Identity

Many community leaders have been surprised at how trails have become sources of community identity and pride. These effects are magnified when communities use trails and greenways to highlight and provide access to historic and cultural resources. Many trails and greenways themselves preserve historically significant transportation corridors.

Donate to the Firefly Trail via CommunityFunded

Imagine a World..

In which you could enjoy a rail trail without having to fight your way through Metro-Atlanta first. Soon, you'll be able to! There's a rails-to trails project underway right here in your own backyard.

The trail will connect Athens-Clarke, Greene and Oglethorpe counties with 39 miles of multi-purpose walkways suitable for walking, jogging and biking alike, and The Firefly Trail, Inc. is dedicated to making that vision a reality.

Beginnings

In 1841, the Athens branch of the Georgia Railroad began operation, providing freight and passenger transportation from farms and towns to markets.

Interesting fact: The corridor is so level, there were only three trestles on the entire 39 mile route. The only one that remains is the Trail Creek trestle in Athens, made famous by the REM album “Murmur.”

1841

Railroad Ceases to Operate

The route was abandoned. Some property reverted to adjacent landowners, some may have been retained by CSX Transportation, and some may have been sold to other parties.

1984

Getting Started

Local governments begin the process of purchasing and aquiring land from the CSX railroad company. The vision for the Firefly Trail is born.

2002

SPLOST Referendum

Athens-Clarke County voters agree on a SPLOST referendum; sales tax collections combined with a Federal Transit Administration grant fund the first leg of the Firefly Trail.

2004

SPLOST Referendum II

Voter approval designated $7 million to build the trail. The second influx of SPLOST money is paired with a Federal Highway Administration grant administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

2011

Plans for Trail

Athens-Clarke County prepares to begin construction on the first trail segment. This will provide a link from downtown Athens to Dudley Park and beyond.

2014

Construction Begins

Athens-Clarke County begins construction on the first .8 mile segment of the trail (East Broad Street almost to the Athens Loop). When complete, this segment will be 14 feet wide and will include two bridges.

2014

Present Day

Community representatives and the NE Georgia Regional Commission have created a 501©3 non-profit organization, mapped most of the corridor, have begun property searches to identify property owners, and started raising awareness and funds.

2015

Why "Firefly"?

"Firefly" was the nickname of the locomotive that ran the line from 1891 until 1984, because of the sparks that flew from its wood-burning engine. We are certain that the Firefly Trail will live up to its name by providing positive sparks of wellness and growth to local communities.