Earthquake Ridge mountain bike trails near Mena.

The City of Mena Moves Forward on New Trails

All Sports Productions Ad

More than two years ago, a new trail project was initiated in Mena, Arkansas, to create a mountain bike trail system that would connect Mena to Queen Wilhelmina State Park situated at the top of Rich Mountain, the second-highest peak in Arkansas. The project was undertaken as a partnership between the Arkansas State Park, the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, the US Forest Service, the Walton Family Foundation, and the City of Mena. This ambitious project may eventually include lift-assisted trails on the west side of the ridge between the two destinations.

Recently, social media posts from experienced mountain bike trail builders Progressive Trail Designs indicated they are on the ground in Mena. Following this development, we reached out to Mena Mayor Seth Smith to discuss the latest progress of the Mena Trails project.

In 2022, the city of Mena received an Economic Development Opportunity Grant from the US Economic Development Administration. This grant was awarded as part of the American Rescue Plan and was worth $275,000. The purpose of the grant was to construct a new mountain biking trail that would be added to the existing network of mountain bike trails in Polk and Montgomery Counties, Arkansas. The Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program, funded through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, is designed to help accelerate the recovery of the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industry and build back the communities that depend on the industry. The Mena Advertising and Promotion Commission contributed $160,613.75 to match the grant, which allowed them to fulfill the design and build contract with Progressive Trail Design worth $435,613.75.

See also  UCI Gravel World Championship Qualifier Returning to Fayetteville

The project is underway at Ward Lake, occupying an area of approximately 160 acres on the north side of town. The project includes the construction of 4 trails, currently unnamed. These trails will consist of a 1.2 mile walking and biking aggregate surface trail that will encircle the dry lake bed, a 0.7 mile bidirectional front country trail, designed to take mountain bikers on a relaxed climb and decent to a hub for two upper trails, a 0.6 mile technical trail for faster riders, and a 0.6 mile flow trail. Additionally, Progressive Trail Design will be constructing two bridges as part of the project.

Design Map for Ward Lake Trails
Design Map for Ward Lake Trails

The city has plans to apply for additional grants to establish a connection between the town and the Ward Lake Dam. According to the mayor, he would like to see a paved trail accompanied by a flow trail similar to the All American Trail that runs parallel to the Razorback Greenway in Bentonville. It is expected that these trails will eventually connect with the proposed trails to be built between Rich Mountain and Mena.

The Community Bicyclist

“We’re pumped. I think we’re in the very early stages of a much larger project. I think it’s going to be a game changer for us, we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” said Mayor Smith.

The construction of the current trail should be finished by late summer or early fall, depending on the weather. However, the significant parts of the project that are located on the US Forest Service property are still pending the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.

See also  Lake Winona Gravel Bike Loop Gets New Signage

A video shared by Progressive Trail Design of the build area:

(Lead photo from the Earthquake Ridge Trail near Mena, Arkansas courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism)

Ozark Outdoor Supply Spring Hiking Ad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *