HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Cecil Ashburn Drive will close for 10 months on January 7 and it's affecting more than just the 17,000 drivers that travel it every day. But there is another group of people that will be affected by the closure that you might not think about right away, hikers.
The Blevins Gap Nature Preserve is the second most popular hiking trail in Huntsville. The trails main access point is located on Cecil Ashburn. So when the road closes, the trailhead will close too.
"It's a really nice hike. It wasn't too difficult but the views were really nice," hiker Austin Redding said.
This was Reddings' first time using the Blevins Gap Trailhead. His experience is exactly why the trail is so popular.
Officials from the North Alabama Land Trust want to get the word out that there are 2 other ways to access the trail. The Smoke Rise Trailhead is located about a quarter mile from the Smoke Rise Road Southeast and Valley Bend Drive intersection. The Sugar Tree Place Trailhead is located near the Sugar Tree Trail Southeast and Sugar Tree Place intersection. Both of these trailheads are in neighborhoods and do not have a designated parking lot.
"We've sent letters to our neighbors letting them know that this may increase traffic in the area and we're asking all the users to please not block driveways, to be respectful of the people who are living there," North Alabama Landtrust CEO, Marie Bostick, said.
Land Trust officials are asking people to not create rogue trails.
"Which are people creating their own trail access into the property," Bostick said.
She says rogue trails are dangerous.
"We have issues with signage and people getting lost because you have all these little criss-cross trails going on," she said.
Since this is the second most popular trail in town, the land trust would like to keep it safe for years to come.
The Blevins Gap Trailhead will also be improved during the Cecil Ashburn road project. The parking lot will still be gravel, but it is going to be a lot bigger to help provide more parking for hikers.