Raider Nature Trail
Every cross country team needs quick access to a good soft surface trail that stretches for miles and miles. Training on such a trail is key to a team's success. Alpharetta High School Cross Country has been working this vision for the past 15 years. And now, we are so very close to seeing that dream become a complete reality. Do you want to be a part of making it happen? Are you wondering where we started, how we've progressed through the years and where we want to go? Let's start at the beginning.
Noah Terrell at the beginning of the Raider Trail
Raider Nature Trail Purposes
In addition to providing a secluded, dedicated route for runners, below are several more specific benefits of having a natural trail system that begins on the Alpharetta High School campus:
Minimizes training on hard surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, which results in greater impact on the body with each stride, and leads to overuse injuries
Reduces the risk and danger to young athletes running along and across roadways
Allows cross country athletes to train on the type of surfaces and terrain on which cross country meets are held
Enriches the student experience at Alpharetta High School with outdoor classroom and science class opportunities
Provides an environmentally friendly running trail that uses the natural terrain of the surrounding area for all high school athletes and the Alpharetta community at large
History of the Raider Nature Trail
When Alpharetta High School opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 2004, only the current White Path, which follows an old access road from the softball field to the Big Creek Greenway, and Hudson Hill, another stretch of abandoned access road located behind the cafeteria, were utilized by the cross country team. Hudson Hill, named for the team’s coach, was used for grueling hill repeat workouts. The Mount Adams Mountain Bike Trail, located alongside the Big Creek Greenway, was also heavily used by the team during the early years of the program.
The need for a comprehensive, on-campus trail was recognized by the coaching staff and booster club more than a decade ago. Periodically, exploratory committees of subject matter experts were formed to study and make recommendations. Due to the challenging terrain, property boundaries, cost considerations, level of effort, the common recommendation was that the cross country team train at Webb Bridge Park and on the Big Creek Greenway as more practical, but not optimal, alternatives. Unfortunately the Greenway is a concrete surface, not a soft-surface training option. Webb Bridge Park is located 3 miles from the school and requires the transportation of the athletes to and from the school in order to train there. Over time and due to a lack of maintenance, the White Path and Hudson Hill reverted back to an overgrown and natural setting.
In late 2011, the Creek View Elementary School property was explored as a potential alternate location for a nearby trail system that could be used daily by the team. Several months of measuring, preparation, and volunteer coordination paid off in May of 2012, when over 100 members of the North Point Community Church volunteered an entire day and created a half mile loop behind Creek View Elementary School. Shortly thereafter, a new route was blazed through the Big Creek Greenway floodplain in order to connect the Mount Adams Mountain Bike Trail to the new Creek View Elementary School Loop. The White Path was gradually reclaimed as well.
2014 was the year the on-campus Raider Trail transformed from being an important but relatively small connection path, from the school property to the Big Creek Greenway, to a soft surface training resource that circles the entire school property. The cross country organization restudied and revived the concept of building a comprehensive trail system on the school’s property. Multiple exploratory excursions, measurements, and mappings were completed and eventually yielded a suitable 1.3 mile long outer route for the new trail. With thousands of hours of volunteer effort, the generous assistance and donated services of Atlas Piers Construction Company, Ashton Woods Development Company, and Southern Classic Tree Service, construction on what would eventually become the Black Loop, the Maroon Path, and the Silver Path broke ground and continued throughout most of year. Full restoration of the White Path and Hudson Hill were also completed during this time, as well as modifications to the Creek View Elementary School Loop.
2015 saw the completion of the Black Loop including three new creek-crossing bridges which were led by the following Eagle Scout candidates and cross country team members:
The Boston Jones Bridge was completed in May 2015
The Grayson Guzowski Bridge was completed in June 2015
The Brian Nelson Bridge was completed in August of 2015
Brian Nelson Bridge
Boston Jones Bridge
Grayson Guzowski Bridge
Trail work and upgrades continued in 2016 with several new projects completed:
Noah Terrell completed his Eagle scout project by installing custom-made 0.1 mile distance markers on the Black Loop in January 2016
Charlie Comeau took a team over to the Creekview Elementary School Loop in April 2016 and installed distance markers every 100 meters, completing his Eagle scout project
In May 2016, a new trail entrance was opened off of Webb Bridge road, roughly 25 meters east of the school's entrance
Michael Masi designed, built and installed 2 trail head display boards containing trail maps and team information at Alpharetta High School, completing his Eagle scout project in September of 2016
Noah Terrell Marker
New Trail Entrance
off Webb Bridge Road
2017 & 2018 included several Trail upgrades:
Eagle Scout candidate and cross country teammate, Will Ashe installed signs at trail intersections on the Alpharetta High School campus. He also installed trail blazes every 200 feet informing runners which trail they are on.
Eagle Scout candidate Alex Marshall completed the latest addition to the Raider Trail in late October, by installing a new bridge on the White Path just off the Greenway.
Eagle Scout candidate and cross country teammate, Patrick Wahl completed his project in early 2018. Patrick led a crew installing two trail head map display boards. One is located near the Greenway entrance and the other is located near the North Point Parkway school entrance.
Eagle Scout candidate and cross country teammate, David Wahl completed his project late in 2018. David and crew cleared out an area located behind the school's tennis courts and installed a exercise station.
Will Ashe at posted intersection
Alex Marshall bridge
Patrick Wahl map display board
David Wahl exercise station
Future Scout Projects
Raider Trail upgrades and expansions are being planned by the cross country trail committee. Scouts who are looking for Eagle project ideas are encouraged to contact the AHS XC Booster Board by clicking the link or sending an email to: AlpharettaXC@AlpharettaXC.com. In addition to Eagle projects, troops with scouts of all ages are welcome to contact the booster club regarding general service projects such as spring trail maintenance, campus beautification, etc. Many of these projects are appropriate for scouts of all age levels.
The cross country team schedules several trail maintenance work days each year. Typically on a Saturday, coaches, athletes & family members will come out to weed, pick up trash, and spread mulch. Aside from maintaining the trail, it is a very rewarding team bonding event and the cross country booster club does its best to make it a fun workday. We are blessed to have such a committed group of coaches, athletes and family members that are willing to commit their time to realizing our dream of viable soft surface distance trail for the team to safely train on.
The Raider Trail has been a work in progress and has reached many important milestones over the past decade. But foremost it is the direct result of Ben Hines’ leadership and his long-term commitment to an on-campus, soft-surface trail for the benefit of current and future generations of high school cross country athletes. Ben has been associated with the cross country team since the school’s doors opened in 2004. First as a student athlete and then as a member of the coaching staff and the booster club. Ben was the first male athlete to complete four years as a cross country team member from 2004-2007. During that time young Ben earned the Rookie of the Year award and the Raider Award. Most importantly, the Raider Trail simply would not exist without Ben's continuous effort. He has been the unwavering visionary for this project and has never given up on the concept, even after many others concluded that there would never be a viable trail on the school’s property. Ben will be retiring from the trail in 2018. We will miss his leadership and wish him well in his future endeavors.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the AHS Cross Country Trail System, please contact the AHS XC Booster Club by clicking the link or sending an inquiry email to: AlpharettaXC@AlpharettaXC.com.