This past Saturday, Lisa and I went out to do a little mountain biking at Burns Park in North Little Rock. This is an old haunt of mine. While training for a 100 mile mountain bike race a few years back, I pretty much lived out there. I knew the trails like the back of my hand. I’ve also competed in a couple of adventure races through the park and one off-road triathlon. I still road bike through the area on a regular bases and get out on the mountain bike trails as an alternative to the new trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park (when I need a little change of scenery).
This Saturday was a perfect day to be on the trails. The 6-hour race at Cedar Glades in Hot Springs had pulled most of the area cyclists out of the Little Rock/North Little Rock for the day and we had the trails pretty much to ourselves. Over the last couple of years the park/volunteers have made some great changes to the trails, adding some mileage, nice flowy stuff and the short track area is a blast. As we rode along enjoying the day I noticed some newer changes. As a trail builder I think I’ve developed an eye for spotting new trail flags (ribbon tied to trees to mark planned trails) in the woods. After crossing several new trail cuts we finally decided to check one of the “new” trails out. Here is my word of warning, if you are not a confident mountain biker I don’t recommend doing this. New, unfinished trail can be treacherous.
I immediately fell in love with this new section that allowed for a wonderfully done switchback up a hill that has a notoriously worn out climb. I’m really looking forward to riding the rest of the new trails. When I got back home I contacted the person that I felt might be responsible for the new trails, Trail builder and Arkansas Naturalist, Bert Turner to see if he was the culprit and to get more information. Bert sent me some great information.
The trails, like all trails at Burns Park are multi-use and the new sections will be about 6.2 miles long. The International Mountain Biking Association helped in laying out the trails about 2 years ago. I’ve seen some concern about the gravel at the beginning of the trail near the Boy Scout trail head expressed on mtbr.com forums. That section will only be .3 miles for some ADA access and to protect the start and finish of the trail. They hope to have the trails completed by May 7th which is Arkansas Trails Day. The Arkansas Trails Council expects to have big events in the park in conjunction with the statewide celebration.
“Much of the trail in Burns Park was put in back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when we didn’t know much about trail building. With the new knowledge and techniques we have, and with IMBA helping so much in the layout, I think we are going to have a spectacular multiuse trail system in Burns Park that will be readily available to the metro area”, said Turner. The trails will be open to mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians.
The Central Arkansas Master Naturalists and North Little Rock Parks are doing the work on the trails. The trail is being cut by Parks maintenance crews using the same machines as used on the LoViT and other USFS trails. Trail workers will then go behind to hand groom the tread which is expected to be 24″ wide.
If you are interested in helping out with the trails, please contact the Central Arkansas Master Naturalists. Trail building is a very rewarding experience!