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Phase II of Monument Trail network offers something for cyclists of all skill levels, and for non-cyclists, tooPhase II of Monument Trail network offers something for cyclists of all skill levels

Jul 13, 2020

Jadon Smith, a crew member with Rock Solid Trail Contracting, is airborne at Mount Nebo State Park. The opening in June of Phase II of the mountain biking Monument Trail system there adds 18 miles of multi-skill, multi-use dirt trails. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Bob Robinson).


“Have you ridden the awesome new trails at Mount Nebo State Park yet?”

Mountain bikers across the Natural State are hearing this question as riders who have experienced the trails since they opened in June are anxious to share the experience. Phase II of the Mount Nebo State Park Monument Trail network has been one of the most anticipated trail openings in the state.

The completion of Phase I in July 2019 — the exciting, seven-mile Chickalah Valley Loop — whetted appetites with its two-mile downhill run. For Central Arkansas riders who haven’t traveled far from home, Phase I presented the first exposure to a trail that was designed from the ground up to be a true gravity-driven experience. Complete with small, fun kickers and black diamond jumps, it challenges even big-air junkies.

As mega fun as the Chickalah is, 7 miles of trail is not enough to justify a long drive; so most of the riders who frequented the trail during its first year were from Central Arkansas. With the additional 18 miles of trails included in Phase II, Grady Spann, Arkansas State Parks director, says, “We have created a mountain bike destination that will draw riders from outside the central section of the state.”

Spann explains that the almost 1,000 feet of usable elevation change on the mountain allowed the creation of an experience like that found on world-class downhill trails in the West.

And he should know. Spann was a member of an Arkansas contingent that traveled to British Columbia’s Whistler Mountain Bike Park in 2019 to learn what makes for world-class trails and how to market them. The influence of that visit is seen within many features at the Mount Nebo State Park trail system.

Mount Nebo’s Phase II has not only lengthened the system, it has added diversity, in trails that offer something for all skill levels.

GO FAST LONGER

For those riders who have been enjoying redo-after-redo on the Chickalah Downhill run over the past year, on your next visit to the park drop into Phase II’s even longer Hayes Creek Run. It’s on the opposite side of the mountain. Sheer adrenaline, heart-pumping speed is the theme for this downhill thrill ride.

Hayes may require a few “getting to know you” do-overs to become comfortable enough to lay off your brakes and trust the high, banked earthen berms Rock Solid Trail Contracting built to navigate the sharply sweeping switchbacks sprinkled throughout the run. But eventually, you will be happily cruising down the mountainside in the manner Hayes was meant to be ridden — all out.

This run also includes a picturesque bridge, a work of art with a pristine waterfall backdrop that will have riders pausing for photo ops.

But as all mountain bikers are all too aware, what goes down must go up. The climb back to the mountaintop is by way of the steep, 2-mile Ox Pull Trail. The name was inspired by park history: Early visitors had to switch out their horses for strong oxen to pull their wagons up the steep mountainside.

However, cyclists might soon have an option to hitch a ride back to the top with a modern-day beast of burden. Spann says the parks department would listen should an enterprising entrepreneur approach them with a plan to operate a for-pay shuttle service. Having ridden the 20-some minute climb up Ox Pull, I believe operators could name their price for a shuttle up that mountain.

Full article here