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A Quick Warning and Alternate Routes for the Silver Comet Trail Section Between Cedartown GA and Rockmart GA

roadskater's picture
Three of us did the full skate from mile 0 of Silver Comet outside Atlanta, GA to the end of Chief Ladiga Trail just inside Anniston, AL yesterday. My GPS's said it was 94.92 miles including a few side trips and fun backtracks. Thanks to Tom B for joining us and especially his wife and kids for driving out to retrieve us. Also thanks to Jonathan K for a nice offer of retrieval as well. We had a great day, but not all of it was great. We had some extra challenges due Tom's axle and my brake pad wear (and not having my usual spare brake pad along and late in the day was using the metal as well as the pad to stop, ha), but we still all agreed the section between Rockmart and Cedartown is not up to the quality of the rest of the Silver Comet. I'm not saying it's impossible, but before you go, know that not all of this section of the Silver Comet is a railtrail, and it is a very different and much more technical section, even for cyclists, if their bikes are not in top shape. On a bike, be sure you have your brakes, rims and tires well maintained. On skates bring an extra pad and tools or some sandals or be ready to burn some wheels and put strain on your knees. There are some nice parts of this section, but some technical stops and turns that are perhaps not worth it for most skaters and some cyclists. It's a shame but eebee and I agreed later that we'd rather not have the trail there than have this particular trail in place. We hope they'll eventually get the rights to the rail bed and make it up to the quality of the rest of the amazing Silver Comet. Once we can look at our data and maps, we'll be searching in earnest for a roadskating alternative route to avoid the worst parts of the Silver Comet between Rockmart and Cedartown, because we love the idea of a nice 95 mile skate on rail-trails. As for the Chief Ladiga, it's all safe except for a few roots here and there, and all asphalt. If they fix the non-rail-trail sections and add the six miles or so in to the Anniston Amtrak station, it'll be a true train-skate adventure opportunity, especially if Atlanta can link from the Amtrak station to the Silver Comet. I'm really glad we did the full trip now that we made it, but there were times during the day where we wondered about it all. At all parts of the day at least one of us had done every section of the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga except the one between Rockmart and Cedartown, so we knew once we got to Cedartown it'd be OK, but we were starting to wonder what worse might be ahead of us on the trail. Fortunately, it all came out well. If you go, take care!
Non-Railtrail Section of Silver Comet Trail near Wimberly Hill, East of Cedartown GA USA


I agree with Blake

To build on Blake's comments, I think it's fair to say that we all came away with the following two conclusions: 1. The quality of the Silver Comet Trail between Rockmart and Cedartown is not up to the standard of other parts of the trail. It made me realize just how spoiled I am to be on a very good part of the trail. If I were to do a long distance skate, just by myself or in a small group, I would probably just skate to Rockmart and back. 2. If we were to plan a long distance event on the trail we would recommend scouting alternatives to the trail itself in certain sections, particularly between Rockmart and Cedartown. It's not that the trail is impossibly difficult. I actually think those uphills we talked about in other posts would be perfectly appropriate for a tough long distance event. But there are some downhills that "T" into streets that would be problematic, particularly if skating in a pack. The roots in a few parts of the Chief Ladiga trail were not dangerous but they did pound our feet pretty hard. You wouldn't think a couple roots would be that big of a deal, but it would be nice if they could re-pave sections of that trail. I agree with Blake, I'm glad I did the whole distance. But if I hadn't found (or been able to buy) a wrench along the way I would probably have pulled the plug at some point.
roadskater's picture

We still love it but not everything it does

Let me reiterate that we love the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga, and we love long distance roadskating, city skating and rail trail skating. While not the best or most fit, we are experienced. It is possible to traverse from Rockmart to Cedartown, maybe to go the other way (but that downhill is more difficult). Still, it was not as comfortable for us and didn't feel as well-engineered or safety-conscious as other sections. My understanding is that there were rights acquisition problems from Grady Road westward toward Cedartown, and if you look on the maps, the Silver Comet railway made a large semicircle to get around the mountains or hills the trail now goes straight over...and I mean straight, except for where it connects to the historic Silver Comet route, where sharp downhill turns are added in to make the connection. I feel these portions (and a few others) need work and anyone going out there needs to be a bit extra prepared. With just a bit more care and of course more money, these connectors could surely have been made to be straight runouts, perhaps with a little upward tilt into the crossing at Grady Road. Tomb's right about the switching from one side of the tracks to the other. I'm thinking (not knowing) that the track we were crossing is the old Silver Comet track that hasn't been pulled up yet, and that these sections may be awesome later on. And honestly, we have no problem with flat sections or climbs or high speed descents except those that have sharp turns or junk at the bottom. We are not trying to keep anyone from doing the whole Silver Comet route, but are hoping to help you be prepared to stop...before you even leave home...by maintaining your equipment and bringing spare hardware, brake pads and tools, in case you need them. If we make it sound worse than it is, that's not as bad as if we gloss over it and say it was easy. Most of all, we'll try to tell how we felt, and if it changes, to go back and comment on it. We will get back to this with GPS data and maps when we can. I hope it helps someone have a better day out. We had a fine time.
eebee's picture

Just take Flip-Flops

What he said. Not trying to dissuade anybody from skating the whole thing at all. It's beautiful. And skating 95 miles of anything is plain nuts any way you slice it, so I deserve what I get.

I'm just saying next time on some of those descents into roads I'll wear flip-flops as partial wrist protectors, like Paige from NY does:

roadskater's picture

Alternate routes to avoid the sections with problem turns

Huston provided a link to the workaround used before the new section was paved. It eliminates the 4 points in the East to West route we had some problems enjoying. His link was this... http://www.toporoute.com/cgi-bin/bicycle.cgi?routeKey=BYYRMOMRRYOEGAA&ca... It's down as Option 1 below if I did it right. These are not tested or verified but here's what I see... Option 1: L on Grady Rd R on Coaling Rd slight R on E Point Rd R on Woodall Rd (sometimes called Cemetery Rd) X RR tracks L onto Silver Comet That confirms one route I wondered about, except Woodall/Cemetery may not be the best option (not so bad since not using the part to the east of Woodall). Another way might be to go Option 2: L on Grady Rd R on Coaling Rd slight R on E Point Rd to R on Mitchell Rd R on Lake St L onto Silver Comet Also, I noted the curvy section of Coaling Rd and believe that's on a downhill section, but it might be fine. I also considered the option of... Option 3: L on Grady Rd R on Coaling Rd L on Mullen Rd R on Campbell Rd R on Lees Chapel Rd R on E Point Rd to R on Mitchell Rd R on Lake St L onto Silver Comet I think that's more bottomland avoiding the big hill/small mountain, but am not sure yet. Or even... Option 4: L on Grady Rd R on Coaling Rd L on Mullen Rd R on Campbell Rd R on Lees Chapel Rd R on Lake St L onto Silver Comet Hope I got those right. Lees Chapel has more houses on it nearer to town, so it might not be appropriate. I hope to run these through Mapmyride to look at elevation profiles, and if anyone out that way has a chance to scout these out, please do report here if you will. Option 3 looks good for a flatter but still more rural choice. Option 1 is shorter but includes more of the hill/mountain I believe. Thanks for your encouragement before and after, Huston. Roadskater

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