From small towns to cities, new trails are opening across the state. The Arkansas River Valley seems to be taking the lead in this growth. Last year we reported on new trails in Alma and Clarksville, Arkansas. This past weekend, Russellville upped the ante a bit by opening a bike park, a small one but still, a bike park. The Pine Knob Mountain Bike Park is built in Confederate Mothers Memorial Park near downtown Russellville. Surrounded by residential neighborhoods, this small park is designed to bring families out to enjoy the wooded area on foot or bike.
The trail consists of seven short trails, the longest, Critter Connector, is 2,431 feet long, and varies in difficulty from white (practically paved) to black (practically impossible). I had the opportunity to ride 1.5 miles on mostly residential roads from Jackalope Cycling to the park. Jumping on Critter Connector at the intersection of West 19th Street and South Glenwood Drive, since the park is based at the top of a rise (Pine Knob) I soon found myself navigating tight switchbacks and beautiful blufflines before arriving at the parking lot. (Trailforks link)
A large crowd of non-riders was gathered around the parking lot while everyone with a bike or one-wheel was busy enjoying the trails, much of which could be seen from the parking lot. The most prominent trail is right in front of the parking area, Chipmunk Scurry. This trail is unlike any trail you’ll see in the state. Designed specifically for beginner kids, this trail is welcoming to balance bikes and kids just getting started on cycling. Parents can watch their kids rid the entire trail from several vantage points or they can ride with them.
Behind Chipmunk Scurry is a gravel road that takes visitors to a hub at the top of Pine Knob. From the Hub, riders can progress to Crane Whoop, a green beginners’ trail that finishes back at the bottom of the gravel road. Back at the hub, riders also have choices of three blue lines, Turtles all the Way and Skink Switch which wind down to the bottom and allow riders a bit more speed and then there is Timberjump, a blue jump line that allows mountain bikers the chance to up their skills with several tabletops and even a small gap jump. Once these are mastered riders can test their skills on Jackanope, a black technical line.
This park is an incredible place for riders of any level to improve their skills before heading to the Monument Trails of Mount Nebo State Park. Having a convenient spot to work on these skills after work or school should play a significant role in creating more mountain bikers and healthier citizens.
How did this happen?
One of the most impressive things about Pine Knob Mountain Bike Park is how it got built. It started with members of the River Valley Ozark Off-Road Cyclists (RVOORC) proposing that they raise $75,000 for building a bike park. In the end, over $83,000 was raised. RVOORC also received at $2,000 Dig In Grant from the International Mountain Bicycling Association, numerous in-kind donations, and most importantly over 1100 hours of volunteer work. Besides the City of Russellville making the park available, they are also now planning to build a pavilion at the Hub.
The opening was attended by RVOORC Board President Blake Slater (this guy put in over 700 volunteer hours, Terry Thomas from the City of Russellville Parks and Recreation Department, and Mayor Fred Teague of the City of Russellville. Mayor Teague spoke eloquently about the quality of life and sense of place that this park would provide to the local community.
Board President Slater did mention that this is only Phase 1 and that more would be coming.