HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Visit Hot Springs today announced a new effort to rehabilitate existing portions of Hot Springs’ Northwoods Trail System. The effort also marks the first step in the process of expanding the complex of mountain biking and hiking trails in the northern section of the city. The project is supported by a $175,000 grant from Steuart Walton and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation.
“Northwoods has already established itself as a major tourism attraction for Hot Springs as well as providing an unparalleled outdoor recreation resource for the city’s residents,” Visit Hot Springs Trails Coordinator Traci Berry said. “This effort will give us the opportunity to expand and improve that resource for both the economic growth and wellness of our city.”
“We will use the funds to:
“1. Rehabilitate our flow trails, mainly reworking our Black Diamond downhill trail, Lucky 13, which is used by experienced riders, and as well as rehabilitation on areas of the Blue Jay, Screech Owl, Ragnarök and Cats Meow trails.
“2. Carry out new construction of trails that will connect the Bethel and Sanderson bridges at the Waterworks property and thus allow Waterworks employees and trail users to take advantage of the property.
“3. Allow us to begin the design work that will lead to Phase 2 of the complex.”
The Northwoods Trail System, connecting to Cedar Glades Park in Garland County, gives Hot Springs 26.5 miles of world-class mountain bike and hiking trails.
Phase 2, when completed, will provide eight to 10 more miles of mountain bike trails that will be among the best in North America, according to Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs.
“The Northwoods Trail System has become a community asset for Hot Springs that builds on the statewide momentum to position Arkansas as a world-class mountain bike destination,” said Gary Vernon, senior program officer for the Walton Personal Philanthropy Group. “These improvements and expansion will enhance connectivity within the park and add new ride experiences such as views of lakes and historic dams.”
Hot Springs City Manager Bill Burrough said, “Hot Springs is eager to begin these new projects, which will allow the city and Visit Hot Springs to continue the extraordinary partnership that has made the Northwoods Trail System one of the finest recreation resources in the country. Going forward, this partnership will continue to expand the economic and healthful opportunities this great facility offers.”
Eventually, the Northwoods system will contain more than 52 miles of world-class trails for biking and hiking.
Berry said the trail rehabilitation will take place on five of the Northwoods flow/downhill trails. It also will pay for approximately two to three miles of cross-country trail connecting two newly installed bridges on the two Waterworks lakes that once provided all of Hot Springs’ drinking water. Those trails and bridges will give riders and hikers access to the west side of the lakes on the Hot Springs Waterworks property.
The City of Hot Springs Utilities Department installed a new bridge below the Dillon Dam and a 300-by-10-foot bridge across the Sanderson Lake Dam. The connectivity to the west side of the Waterworks lakes will lead into Phase 2 planning of the Northwoods Project, Berry said.
“We will be working with Rogue Trails for the trail rehabilitation and new connector trails,” she said. “IMBA Trail Solutions will work on completing the Phase 2 design. (FYI, Rogue Trails built Jackfork and Dynamite at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and all of the Monument Trails at Hobbs State Park)
“Rogue Trails will begin rehabilitation and expansion work at the beginning of October. We should have IMBA on the ground by December. We are also being awarded an IMBA Trail Accelerator Grant that will cover half of the Phase 2 design cost.