By Marty Gordon
Work is scheduled to begin this week on the area’s first mountain bike skill park. Lynchburg’s Native Landworks will construct the course over the next few months.
The Blacksburg Rotary Club along with over 150 individuals and area businesses have helped fund the project that will be located on Brush Mountain near Meadowbook Drive in Blacksburg.
According to the Blacksburg Recreation Department, the primary f the project is to establish an off-road experience in a structured setting that provides various riding opportunities and experiences to the public.
The park will include 3560 feet of downhill trails with obstacles to give beginners and intermediate riders the opportunity to learn how to maneuver on the terrain; while more advanced riders can work on perfecting their skills.
“We’re very excited to begin construction on the mountain bike skills park,” said Blacksburg Town Manager Marc Verniel. “The park will provide an additional outdoor recreation amenity for area residents and will add to our wider region’s appeal as a mountain biking and outdoor recreation destination. This project is possible because of the community members and organizations that have contributed their ideas and funding to support the park’s construction.”
The initial idea was presented to the town in 2015.
The use of two key areas (Gateway and Huckleberry properties) maximizes the prospects for skill development, offering an experience that will appeal to a range of skill levels—from beginners to experts alike.
The current site of the proposed Blacksburg Rotary Mountain Bike Park has a long history of providing one of the only access points to the Jefferson National Forest for the town of Blacksburg. Three decades ago the Gateway Trail began as a private property horse trail that has now developed into an extremely active multi-use trail visited regularly by many stakeholders.
As part of the scope of the area to be considered in the Blacksburg Rotary Mountain Bike Park, the Friends of Huckleberry property that is situated to the south of the Gateway Park location has been identified for development in the Bike Park Concept Plan.
This area has been subject to previous informal construction of cycling specific features and minor trail development, as the terrain layout/topography are particularly suited and attractive for such opportunities.
In 2015, the Blacksburg Parks and Recreation Department took the project under their wing and it is now an official town initiative. The overall goal of the park is to provide a diverse landscape of mountain biking terrain, and a conduit between existing bike paths and trails.
As part of the project, the town is asking for volunteers to help move dirt. The recreation department said the park will be a community-effort and welcome residents to help build the trails.
The park is expected to be completed by mid-April. Anyone willing to volunteer for the project is asked to contact the Blacksburg Recreation Department.