Mountain bikers have long pined and fought for access to public lands to ride on. When a state park opens ten miles of mountain bike trails, you’d think riders would be coming in droves to ride there. White Oak Lake State Park in Bluff City, Arkansas did just that about five years ago. They’ve since added mountain bikers to their list of park users -- which included hikers, fisherman, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts -- but not in the numbers they had hoped for. There can be a number of reasons a trail doesn’t attract the ridership expected: distance from population centers, insufficient awareness, poorly designed or maintained trails, overcrowding by other user groups, or any number of things.
The Fern Hollow Trail at White Oak Lake weaves and winds through pine, hickory, and beech forest in rolling terrain, with half of the system running alongside the lake. The majority of it is beginner-friendly, with a handful of steady climbs that will get some folks huffing and puffing. More advanced riders can push the spin factor and get in a great workout in a beautiful setting.
Park superintendent, Sarah Jones, is very welcoming of mountain bikers at the park and would love to see more riders out enjoying the trails. White Oak Lake is a couple of hours outside of Little Rock and Texarkana, and an hour outside of Arkadelphia. What they are in need of is a community of riders and volunteers to adopt the park and contribute to its maintenance and improvement. After our trail building school this past weekend, they now know more about how to keep trails in their sandy soils sustainable and are already planning on tweaks to make improvements to avoid future problems.
We had a great time with all of the volunteers that participated in this weekend’s events, which included Land Manager Training, a Club Care session, and of course the Trail Building School. Y’all did great work! And many thanks to Superintendent Sara Jones and Assistant Superintendent Brent Launius for their support and hospitality!
They have built it…now will you come?
Photos from the weekend:
(View in Flickr! to see captions.)