A couple dozen kids recently christened Colorado’s newest mountain bike skills park, offering delighted whoops as they maneuvered over the rollers and kickers and then raced back up the return trail to do it all again.
En route, they offered to-the-point reviews of the Cañon City park :
“It’s awesome,” said 15-year-old Bryce McDowell of Pueblo after he cleared the largest jump.
“It’s cool,” said 9-year-old Maya Lenard, who noted she liked the rollers the best.
What: A mountain bike skills park, with two trail levels and eight manmade features, including jumps and rollers. Not intended for beginners.
Where: Accessible via the Eagle Wing Trailhead in the South Cañon Trails and from the Arkansas Riverwalk Trail east of Centennial Park
When: Dawn to dusk dail
More: Maos and trail details available at joinfar.org
While the park’s name, The Yard, gives a nod to the prison-themed trail names of the South Cañon Trails system it abuts, it’s obvious that this is a new community backyard for a burgeoning number of young mountain bikers.
The $42,000 project at the Eagle Wing Trailhead was completed in mid-April and officially opened May 5. It’s a short bike ride from downtown and can be accessed from the Arkansas Riverwalk Trail.
The park was a community collaboration from the get-go, blossoming from long-standing dreams, a fifth-grade school project and a 160-acre land donation from a long-time resident and community supporter.
It was bolstered by the nonprofit Fremont Adventure Recreation, Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District, the city of Cañon City, 89 financial donors, trail builders and volunteers.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Mason Lenard, who was part of the three-student team that developed an idea for a trail and skills park for a class assignment on how to improve the community. Lenard, who’s been riding bikes since he was 2 years old, had built some mountain biking features in his backyard but thought it would be great if more people had a place to develop their skills. He imagined a flow trail and a park with a couple of features created specifically for riders. The Yard has eight features – ramps, jumps and rollers made by Progressive Bike Ramps of Missouri.
“I didn’t think it would get this far, but I’m super glad that it’s here and I can’t wait to try it out with my friends,” he said on the eve of the park’s opening.
Mason, being from a mountain bicycling family, had connections to FAR and in December 2019 he and FAR board member Brian LaDoux presented the idea of a new flow trail and a skills park to the Park District, which owned the land where they would be built. The project was unanimously approved.
The projects were paid for by FAR’s 1% for Trails program, community donations from 89 donors topping $14,000 and lots of in-kind services from the Parks District and the city.
The 40 truck loads of dirt came from the city Cemetery Division.
Mason was the top fundraiser for the effort, raking in $760.
The .8-mile Smooth Criminal trail, also part of the South Cañon Trails system, was completed in November. It’s a flow trail, which means it is free of rocks and includes features such as jumps that were created to help riders develop skills.
It and The Yard were “sculpted” into the land by Steve Thomas and his crew from Terra Firma Trails. Thomas said he has built trails all over the country but settled in Cañon City and does nearly all his work in Colorado now.
“We were very lucky to have interesting topography in a great location as our palette for The Yard,” he wrote in an email. “This with the well-designed features, trails, and very talented (and) dedicated crew made this project a success.”
The Yard is tucked into a hilly corner of the property donated about five years ago by Walter Schepp, who’s lived in Cañon City since 1967. Or, as he says, since Colorado 115 was a dirt road and U.S. 50 was a two-lane highway.
He and his late wife, Gloria, settled down in Cañon City after a stint in the Army during the Korean War and several years with the Foreign Service.
He belonged to a hiking club in college and met Gloria on a hike after he got out of the Army, so it was only natural that he’d invest a little money in “a quarter (square) mile of God’s green earth.”
He never built anything on the land and decided a few years ago to donate it to the Parks District so it would remain open. The district bought some adjacent land and developed the trails in the South Cañon/Schepp’s Open Space.
“Without Walt, we don’t have South Cañon Trails, a flow trail or a skills park,” Kyle Horne, executive director of the Parks District, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Schepp acknowledged the thanks with a doff of his veteran’s cap as he leaned against the back of a car in the trailhead parking lot. He watched the kids continuously run through The Yard’s features.
His hope, he said, is that a couple of young people might meet on this open space and fall in love, as he and his wife did on that hike so many years ago.
“My wife would’ve loved this,” he said, tears glistening in his eyes as they swept over the hillside.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article