Last February, Arkansas Outside contributor, Sarah Miller, wrote an article on trail karma for us. It was a excellent reminder that as trail users we all have a responsibility to help maintain the wonderful trails throughout our state. This Summer I began racing in the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series for the first time. I did okay on my first race and was able to to finish all races so far without injury or mechanical issues. Does the fact that I’m a slower rider who doesn’t worry about going too far outside my abilities factor into this success? Sure it does but I also think that trails like me. (Yes, a trail is a living breathing thing, don’t argue with me on this point, my opinion will not be swayed.)
I was beginning to feel that I have been neglecting a trail that I have accepted responsibility to maintain. With a race coming up at Slaughter Pen Hollow in a little over a week it was time to refill my karma bucket. So last night I headed out to the Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
The park has been great to work with in building this trail. They recently created a new entrance near the pump house (across from the entrance to the Rabbit Ridge Mountain Bike Trail) so lesser mortals would not have to make the climb back to the main trailhead near the visitor center. That climb is tough but as my momma always said, “these things build character.” The new entrance also makes it easier for folks to jump over to the Rabbit Ridge Trail to get a quick lap in. The map above gives the location of new trailhead. In the past both mountain bikers and trail runners were creating cut-throughs here which was causing both safety and erosion issues. That is now fixed.
The park staff created an entrance from the road to the tree line, my job was to connect that spot in the tree line with the actual trail. All it needed was a little raking, clearing a few small limbs and creating a workable trail intersection. The section is only a few hundred feet and since I had already flagged it out during my ride to everywhere it only took me a little over an hour to finish the work.
The Jackfork is mostly advanced trail, while I wouldn’t call it expert it does have sections that are going to take highly experienced riders to clear. That is okay, everyone needs a new challenge, even the pros. The photo of this sign was sent to me by someone who had recently ridden some trails out west. It fits well with the Jackfork.
Most mountain bike trails are built on “public” land. USDA Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, City and Regional Parks and in the case of the Jackfork (and many other wonderful mountain bike trails), Arkansas State Parks. They have rules that allow us to have these trail. They are good rules that keep humans from overusing, destroying or improperly modifying these areas. Proper design, building and maintenance are important to having a sustainable trail system. So we ask you to PLEASE STAY ON THE TRAILS!!! Pick up trash and report trail issues to the land manager (Park staff in this case) or let me know if you don’t know how to get in touch with them. Don’t take it upon yourself to make trail “improvements”.
If you would like to get your own trail karma, then hook up with a trail crew and learn. The Arkansas Mountain Bike Series offers bonus points by participating in PayDirt events where trail is often given a makeover before or after a race. This is a great way to get involved. You can learn more on the PayDirt Facebook Page. You can often find trail work days listed on this site or our Facebook page.
Also please note the last warning on the sign, “If we catch you smoothing a trail to make it easier, we will spank you so hard you will run crying for your momma.” Now go for a ride and if you have to put your foot down that’s okay, it’ll give you something to work toward next time.
Let’s hope that bucket of karma is not to heavy to carry around Slaughter Pen Hollow.