As we made our way across Minnesota, the rolling hills of the Mississippi river valley subtly disappeared as we traversed through rural towns along the two lane county highway. We emerged from the land of 10,000 lakes to central South Dakota for our visit in Brookings, a quaint college town surrounded by open land filled with prairies and cornfields. With the hopes of developing some mountain bike access, the local bike club, Brookings Mountain Biking Assoc., established a relationship with the city parks and rec department. Most recently, the city of Brookings created a new Nature Park to foster outdoor recreation in an area on an old landfill. This landfill promises to offer a unique mountain bike experience.
As we toured the property to flag our trail project, the historic landfill raised concerns, with its shallow soil and lack of vegetation; we knew we would gain some new knowledge from the project. With a little creativity and open-mindedness our intermediate contour trail came together. Our positive experience continued as we were welcomed by the community with a social event hosted by the bike club at the freshly constructed Nature Center building, a beautiful wood structure that blends modern construction with natural elements of wood and stone. The excitement of the evening was contagious as local families conversed and wandered about the new community asset that few knew existed.
Saturday Trail Building School continued the progression with local mountain bikers and recreationists excited to get their hands dirty and put some trail on the ground. With volunteers young and old, we strategically constructed our proposed section of trail right on the side of the disguised pile of waste. Despite a few minor snags, it was a monumental day for singletrack enthusiasts in Brookings, SD. As we concluded the day, volunteers organized their next work-day and a new bond was formed between new members and old.
Thanks to the entire Brookings community for their amazing hospitality and a great weekend. A big thanks to Bill from Mitchell, SD for providing tools, stories, his knowledge of developing trails in a similar region.