While the region surrounding Mammoth Cave National Park is best known for one of the largest cave networks in the world the amazing natural resources above the ground do not get nearly as much love. Over the past few years the Southwest Kentucky Mountain Bike Association (SW KyMBA), a new IMBA Chapter, has been working collaboratively with park officials to maintain and envision mountain bike trail access across the north end of the park.
Many have waited years for some progress but none more than the riders in the surrounding region as they are fully aware of the potential, the beauty, and the draw that the first bike optimized, professionally built trail will provide their community.
This week I had the pleasure of joining SW KyMBA in a meeting with the Park Superintendent, Sarah Craighead and Bruce Powell the Deputy Superintendent, along with many other key park staff. We talked briefly about the history of SW KyMBA’s involvement and some recommendations and offerings to support the trail in the future, the usual “get to know you” talk.
The next part of the conversation was what truly made my week and I think, given all the work and time put into this project from the chapter members, was a bit of shock.
Sarah Craighead first made it clear that the project was able to be pushed through due to the support and investment of the mountain biking community and their history and dedication to the maintenance of the trail, which will also be needed in the future once the new trail is open. We then went on to ask “What is the status,” (paraphrasing of course).
MCNP is set to begin Trail Construction on the new Mountain Bike Singletrack Trail "Big Hollow" on June 1, 2013. This 8 mile singletrack will be built by one or more PTBA member companies in order to complete by Aug 31, 2013. The trail will be a two loop design linked via a loop connector.
The Master Plan incorporates increasing Maple Springs parking lot to offset the increased need for parking for Mountain Bike and Hiker use. Their will also be a Multiuse (Hike, Bike & Horse) Connector trail going from Maple Springs lot to the Science Center, on to the Big Hollow connector (BH Connector will be restricted to Mountain Bikers/Hikers) and then on to Raymer Hollow for the Horse traffic.
As I’m sure you are all aware, the mountain biking community has come a long way to get to this point. Without the dedication and professionalism of the grassroots organization there locally and the advocacy efforts and relationships in DC this may not have ever happened. The National Park Service should also be commended for their involvement and continued collaboration with the mountain biking community to investigate and facilitate the development of bike optimized single track trails in parks that work.
This fall, plan an adventure to SW Kentucky for a chance to ride your bike in MCNP and the many other great trails that SW KyMBA supports.