Recent photo from the Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

We Love Building Trails

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Over the past 50 years, I’ve hiked and ridden trails all over the United States and parts of Europe and South America. There has always been something about seeing a trail heading into the wilderness that both excites and calms me. The excitement comes from anticipation of the unexpected, what’s around the next turn, the top of the hill or the bottom of the canyon. The trail asks me to take a chance and step out into the unknown. The calm comes from the focus necessary to continue moving forward, hiking, running or biking, your mind is busy with the moment and not the problems or issues of day to day living.

About 5 years ago I decided it was time to give back to the trail workers who created these great places for me to find peace. My day job allowed me to follow this dream by starting the process of building the first mountain bike trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. While most of the work was done on my own time, connections with park management allowed things to go relatively smoothly. As I failed miserably at organizing volunteer days to build the trail, most of the work came down to myself, Lisa and Daron Harris.

Recent photo from the Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)
Recent photo from the Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

Chuck Dovish came out afterwards and filmed an episode of Exploring Arkansas and rode with us on several portions of the Jackfork and Rabbit Ridge Mountain Bike Trails. Go to the 10:00 spot on the video at the link to see the story and to see what a great job Daron and Lisa did on camera.

By the time the Exploring Arkansas episode had run, Steve Wilson, park superintendent of Woolly Hollow State Park near Greenbrier, AR, called me to come up and see if they had the necessary acreage for a good mountain biking trail. I went up but said that I didn’t have time to build it. Lucky for us, they had found some funding. Since this was being paid for instead of being built by volunteer or park labor, the process of getting plans approved took a lot longer…years longer.

In the Summer of 2013, the state parks GIS guy, Darin Mitchell and I headed into the woods to start the formal planning for the trail. We would have to do all the design work ourselves and Darin was anxious to put together a design that would be easily handed to a contractor to build. Once we got into some of the more remote areas we made several changes to the original plans and within a month or so had a design that would give us over 9 miles of trail with minimal contact with the existing hiking trails. A trail that would be accessible to beginners as well as creating a fun ride for more advanced riders.

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Recent photo from Enders Fault Mountain Bike Trail (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)
Recent photo from Enders Fault Mountain Bike Trail (Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

We didn’t get any bidders with mountain bike trail building experience but that was okay as we had a very detailed design. The bid was awarded to Legacy Links, LLC, and the build was on. Over the next several months we spent a great deal of time working with the contractor to make certain all specs were followed. The park did great work having signs and a trailhead parking lot built. The trail has only one bridge which was built by the parks trails crew. Everything came together and in the Spring of 2014 we opened the Enders Fault Mountain Bike Trail.

It wasn’t hard to talk Chuck Dovish into visiting and this week the Enders Fault Mountain Bike Trail aired on Exploring Arkansas.

Like to help maintain these and other trails in Central Arkansas? Follow Central Arkansas Trail Alliance (CATA) and Central Arkansas Off-Road Group (COG) on Facebook.

 

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