From the CEO: I am honored to introduce you, our readers, to a voice of inspiration in Alabama and a new column focused in our outdoor category.

Dr. John Kvach’s work connecting rural communities, state leaders, and entrepreneurs, has created pathways of connectivity through outdoor recreation. He is a visionary who has proved that connecting our cities physically will connect people to community. With a doctorate in Southern History, author of two books and many articles on local and state history, southern history, historic preservation, and the culture of the American South, his passion for people and his desire to see Alabama rise national ranks exemplify what we believe SoulGrown is all about. In his mind, he is a historian, but in his heart, an advocate.

The work of Singing River Trail and now Sweet Trails Alabama is a much deeper undertaking for John and their entire team. Through cultural events like Sledgefest, financial investments in small businesses through their annual Launch Tank, and one-on-one front porch conversations at their headquarters, located adjacent to the beautiful 1818 Farms, I have seen first-hand the impact of trail building on the well-being of humanity in our state.

The success of Singing River Trail in North Alabama has not only touched the lives of many Alabamians but proved that John is a leader within the outdoor recreation industry. His approach harnesses the energy and passion of our larger cities with the aim of physically connecting them to rural areas and areas of persistent poverty.

Now, not only are they “on the ground” continuing to “trailblaze” (puns intended) in North Alabama – but are extending those efforts statewide through the newly launched Sweet Trails Alabama.

Thus, we have invited John and his team to share consistent updates and insights with our SoulGrown audience. We believe this is something everyone can get behind for the betterment of our state and our people. I know that you will enjoy this column and staying up to date as the journey is just beginning! 

Courtney Hancock


We are so excited about the recent launch of Sweet Trails Alabama. This unique collaborative initiative will build upon state, regional, and local trail efforts to create Alabama’s first statewide trails plan. This grassroots effort will enhance what’s already “on the ground” and create new systems of connection to ensure the outdoors is a place of equity for every Alabamian. Every resident and every visitor will be able to easily access and enjoy Alabama’s greatest amenity.

(Sweet Trails AL/Contributed)

To give you a brief insight into the future, the resulting plan will be completed in 2024, identifying a connected trail network for a wide variety of uses, including hiking, biking, equestrian, OHV, and paddling.

From our experience with Singing River Trail in North Alabama over the last few years, we’ve learned a thing or two. The exceptional partnerships created along the way have been key to connecting our larger cities’ energy with rural opportunity for government, entrepreneurs, outdoor enthusiasts, and economic developers.

That’s where you come in.

To build upon the Singing River Trail momentum and expand statewide, we would like to understand what’s important to you. Our recent “Tour of Alabama” with stops in Huntsville, Florence, Tuscaloosa, Selma, Atmore, Mobile, Orange Beach, Dothan, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Jacksonville, proved that the public wants to be involved in planning.

That said, we are conducting a series of in-person and virtual regional stakeholder meetings to learn more about local trails and trail initiatives. There are many different ways you can get engaged.

  1. Sign up for Sweet Trails emails here.
  2. Share this article with a friend or on social media
  3. Follow us on Instagram and Like us on Facebook
  4. Take this survey that will inform the statewide trails plan, by telling us what is important to you when planning future trails in Alabama.
  5. Provide input on this map to help us understand where you would like to see trails
  6. Host information about Sweet Trails Alabama at your next event.  To request materials and instructions on how to do this, email the Sweet Trails Alabama team.
  7. To learn more ways and future ways to engage, see the below brochure or visit our website at for more info.

We look forward to bringing you on the journey with us. Let’s have some fun!