Local Organization Works to Rebuild Multi-Use Trails in NWA

FAYETTEVILLE, AR -- - Gregory parks bike trail is getting updated all thanks to a local organization called Ozark Off-Road Cyclists.
 
Volunteers worked together to carve out a new trail path and move rocks to better spots. In early October... The group approached the city about creating a new sustainable trail system.
 
The previous path was put in about 40 years ago and experienced flooding issues whenever it rained.
 
They've been working on this new trail system since December. 
 
Brannon Pack the executive director of Ozark Off-Road Cyclists said, "As an organization our mission is to advocate for, and build maintain and preserve sustainable multi-use trails right here in the Arkansas Ozarks. We look for impactful projects, we look for opportunities in communities." 
 
The cycling enthusiasts said they should be done fixing the trail in a couple months. And there will be more opportunities for volunteers to help them in the future.
 
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The Ozark Off-Road Cyclists are Shaping the Future of Mountain Biking in Northwest Arkansas

THE "OZARK OFF- ROAD CYCLISTS" -- ARE SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING INNORTHWEST ARKANSAS. STARTING WITH THIS LATEST PROJECT. OUR FIRST LOOK- NEWTONIGHT.(Brannon Pack, OORC Executive Director) "it doesn't matter if you're twoyears old, or you're 62, there'sgonna be something at Gregory Park for you to come out andplay on and get better on yourbike."SO FAR VOLUNTEERS HAVE SPENTMORE THAN 800 HOURS BUILDINGTHIS TRAIL IN AN EFFORT TO EXPAND THE MOUNTAINBIKINGSCENE IN FAYETTEVILLE. BRANNONPACK IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORWITH THE OZARK OFF-ROAD CYCLISTS, AND HE SAYS THIS PARK WILL COVERMULTIPLE EXPERIENCE LEVELS FORBIKERSOF ALL AGES.(Brannon) "We're starting with a true multi-use loop on the perimeter of the property, but then downthe inside of the park will becycling-optimized flowlines, beginner and intermediate skill levels.so what you really start to create here at gregorypark is a trail system that's conducive to people getting better on their bikes,all in one spot, rightin the middle of fayetteville." MASON JEWELL IS A SOPHOMORE ATTHUNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AND SAYS HIS FIRST TIME OUT BUILDING THE TRAIL WAS WORTH IT FOR THECHANCE TO GIVEFUTURE GENERATIONS A PLACE TO RIDE.. (Mason Jewell, First-timevolunteer)"I'm happy for people thataren't even born yet to go walk on or bike on something that Ihelped make." (Brannon) "this trail they're buildingtoday, their kids' kids are gonna be out here recreating on this someday. So it is really a lasting impression that the volunteers are making." THE NEXT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITYIS ON MARCH 18TH AT LAKE LINCOLNIF YOU'RE INTERESTED.

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Adventure Arkansas: 12th Annual Buffalo Headwaters Challenge

For this week’s Adventure Arkansas I traveled to Red Star, AR to the 12th Annual Buffalo Headwaters Challenge.

The OORC or Ozark Off Road Cyclists is a non-profit organization who’s blazing trails and making a name for themselves around the country…

The executive director of OORC, Brannon Pack, helped spear head the operation.

“It started officially in 2006 with some rowdy riders just looking for winter recreation opportunities and we’ve seen it grow in an event that is now hosting over 450 riders today in the Arkansas Ozarks,” said Pack.

The OORC’s mission is simple.

“Is to advocate for build, maintain, preserve, sustainable, multiuse soft surface trail throughout the Arkansas Ozarks,” said Pack.

And you wouldn’t believe how long it takes them to get ready for this event, Chick Maxwell, the President of OORC explains.

“Decades of preparation go into getting ready for this event, some of the local folk really defended the forest that was here first off,” said Maxwell.

This year’s event not only brought challenging trails, but an experience like no other.

Both Nickel Potter and Scott Schroen are local hammerheads…

“It’s so cool to come out here and have 300 to 400 people this year to come way out into the woods with a giant group of great people and just have fun on your bikes is awesome,” said Potter

“This is mountain biking right here,” said Schroen.

The event is run completely by volunteers and members of the OORC.

“It’s a passion for all of these folks here not only too jump on their bike and ride, but also what the organization stands for,” said Maxwell.

The riders range from the smallest.

“It’s been hard, but fun,” said McKenzie.

“Some climbs are real steep and rocky, but I try to push myself,” said Ethan.

Some attending the event for the first time, Caleb High is from Central Arkansas and wanted to come see what all the excitement was about.

“Wow, yeah there’s a lot of people, a lot to take in, ” said High.

Of course the regulars…

“This is my 4th year out here,” said Potter.

“Yeah 4 years, ” said Schroen.

People traveled from states away to come join in on the fun.

“We all ride bicycles together over around Tahlequah Oklahoma, we wanted to come over here and ride this epic ride, have a good time with friends, and see the beautiful scenery around the Buffalo River,” said Mike Bingham.

His friends from OK also attended Tony Cornell and Jill Herrlein.

Mike is celebrating a personal accomplishment too.

“I am a lung cancer survivor and I’m glad to be here,” said Bingham.

Even girls are making great strides to normalize the sport.

Allie Corlett has been riding for four years now and she recently won a state championship…how’s that for girl power!

“Riding bikes in school, the teams that are starting to pop up, a lot more ladies are getting into it,” said Corlett.

Another rowdy rider is Katelyn Johnson, this is her first time attending the BHC, but she encourages other girls to attend next year.

“Come out and ride you know if there’s more girls and more girls riding so it’s really good to see a bunch of girls out on the trails,” said Johnson.

Once the riders have conquered the BHWC tomato soup and grilled cheese await them after a victorious day of riding.

For this week’s Adventure Arkansas, I’m Megan Graddy!

For more information about the OORC and their upcoming events, click here!

Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru

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City Lake work begins Monday

SILOAM SPRINGS — A Monday groundbreaking finally will turn the dream of creating a vast bike and nature park into reality.

The 10:30 a.m. event will kick off a two-phase development involving extensive improvements to City Lake, transforming the 165-acres a mile and a half north of the city into an outdoor activity area to be used for cycling, walking, hiking, running, paddling and wildlife education, said Holland Hayden, communication officer for the city.

“We are really going to get together and celebrate the fact that we have some amazing improvements coming and that we’re partnering with Ozark Off Road Cyclists,” Hayden said.

Ozark Off Road Cyclists is a soft-surface trail user group building trails all over the state, said David Van-Sandt, who serves on the Parks Planning Board and is the chairman of cyclists’ borderline branch in Siloam Springs.

Brannon Pack, executive director of Ozark Off Road Cyclists, said a trail system and other amenities being added to City Lake comes after many years of effort from many people.

“There’s been some strong advocates for two decades advocating for recreation amenities at City Lake,” Pack said. “Passionate people have been advocating for City Lake long before we got involved, and we’re just happy to be a piece of the project.”

VanSandt wrote a letter to the city 14 years ago as a resident asking City Lake area be used as a soft-surface trail. What the Siloam Springs residents will get is a whole lot more, he said.

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“This isn’t just a mountain bike trail,” VanSandt said. “It’s a complete park.”

Park amenities are designed to attract outdoor enthusiasts who love nature, as well as bike riders who enjoy riding on natural terrain, Pack said.

“We have a skills course and a pump track that will really help people develop the skill sets necessary to then explore the miles of soft-surface trails,” Pack said. “Within the trails themselves we’ve included beginner and intermediate trails. On that one piece of property, people have the amenities to get better on their bikes right there (on the trails).”

The bike trails of varying skill levels will be about 5 miles, Hayden said.

The improvement will be made with sensitivity to creatures in the area by collaborating with Joe Woolbright, who works for Ozark Ecological Restoration, Van-Sandt said.

“He got involved as a citizen in trying to keep the water quality high in the watershed and protect the native species of plants and wildlife,” VanSandt said. “He has helped us protect milkweed for the monarch butterfly.”

Woolbright also helped to pinpoint an area of the lake frequented by trumpeter swans, and measures will taken to protect them.

“The mouth where Flint Creek comes into the lake, that’s an area that needs to be protected four months out of the year, and during that time it will be buoyed off,” VanSandt said.

THE PLAN

The first phase will be completed this year, and the second phase either this year or in 2018, Holland said.

The cost will be $965,000, Pack said. Money for the work comes from three sources: Siloam Springs, an Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Transportation Alternative Program grant and private donations. For Phase 1, the city will provide $264,500 and the Highway Department grant is for $67,705, Hayden said. City money and private donations raised so far come to a combined $543,000, Pack said.

“We’ve already generated half of the revenue necessary,” he said.

Good timing brought Ozark Off Road Cyclists into the City Lake project last year, Hayden said.

“The city had been working on some improvements for years without much success,” she said. “Our parks and recreation manager (at the time) was attending a local meeting for OORC and they all started talking about the desired improvements. It was right place, right time, right project.”

Ozark Off Road Cyclists, a nonprofit organization started in 1997, has developed trail systems across the state, including overseeing improvement to the Lake Fayetteville trail system, the Mount Kessler trail system, Lincoln Lake in Lincoln and Lake Leatherwood Park in Eureka Springs, among others.

“As an organization we’re growing as the trail system grows,” Pack said. “For 20 years we have been preserving green space by creating recreation amenities and multi-use trail systems for everyone.”

The group will work with Crossland Trails on the overall design and plan and Rogue Trails for implementing the improvement, Pack said.

There are already two trail systems in the city: Sager Creek Mountain Bike Trail, which is 5 miles, at John Brown University, and a 13-mile paved trail throughout the city. The City Lake trail will not initially be connected to the other trail systems, Hayden said.

“Right now it’s just (going to be) a trail by itself,” she said. “Eventually we would like to have connectivity to the other trails in town.”

Community involvement and feedback was a key ingredient to developing the City Lake trail.

“From hikers, bikers, walkers, fishermen, birders, all of those user groups coming together and making this a reality, it’s really humbling,” VanSandt said. “It comes back to us being good stewards of our natural resources. Everybody’s in it for the same reason. It’s about everybody trying to do the right thing.”

The park will have a proper name, but the name hasn’t been decided, VanSandt said.

Hayden said there’s no talk of development around the park.

“There’s not a lot of room for additional development out there because of private land owners, but you never know,” she said. “If an opportunity comes, you never know what will happen.”

There is excitement all around for the park, said Don Clark, the city’s community development director.

“It’s an opportunity to enhance our quality of life in Siloam Springs,” Clark said.

City Lake history

The 165-acre lake property was acquired by Siloam Springs in 1944 and remained in its natural state until 2009, when a pump house was installed. Money for the planned improvement comes from city money approved in 2016 and 2017, a Transportation Alternative Program grant from the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department and private sources.

Source: Staff report

City Lake improvements include:

• About 5 miles of dirt trails of varying skill levels

• A wooden truss bridge to cross Flint Creek on the east side of the lake

• About one mile of soft-surface, multi-use trail on the southeast side of the lake

• A birder blind

• Bike park and skills course

• Multiple grave parking lots

• A fishing dock

• Disc golf course

Source: Staff report

Hicham Raache can be reached by email at or Twitter @NWAHicham.

Read Full Article At Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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City Lake Groundbreaking In Siloam Springs

SILOAM SPRINGS (KFSM) -- The city of Siloam Springs broke ground on City Lake improvements after owning the property for more than 70 years.

City leaders said they were excited to see movement and loose dirt at the park.

"We've owned this property for a long long time. It's been in it's natural state. We've always wanted to be able to include some recreational amenities here and now we have what I believe to be an accurate path to get there," city administrator Phillip Patterson said.

The path includes five miles of dirt trails, a bike park and a disc golf course.

"There's been some strong advocates working with the city for almost two decades to really kind of bring this to reality," Ozark Off Road Cyclist executive director Brannon Pack said.

Pack said the park and its improvements will help fill a need that many people have.

"We see this project and this park specifically serving a large user base to people hungry for this type of opportunity to come play outside," Pack said.

While Pack said he is hopeful that the changes will draw people outside, Patterson hopes it will get them inside of local businesses.

"There's clearly an impact where people are going to come here and enjoy themselves," Patterson said. "Hopefully they'll come into downtown Siloam Springs, they'll have lunch, they'll spend a little money and we'll get the economic impact from that."

Even though there is still more to do, Pack said what will be accomplished at City Lake could influence others.

"It will be a regional destination for mountain biking, hiking, trail running, dog walking, kayaking with the kayak park. They're creating amenities here that other cities are going to learn from," Pack said.

The city plans to complete the project in two phases. The first phase is expected to be done at the end of 2017.

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Twenty years of volunteer trail advocacy in the Arkansas Ozarks

The #OORC is excited to celebrate twenty years of volunteer trail advocacy in the Arkansas Ozarks. Two decades of playing in the dirt!

Since 1997 our volunteers have been passionately advocating for, building, and maintaining trail while preserving green space by creating recreational opportunities.

We'll be celebrating throughout the year including at the 12th Annual Buffalo Headwaters Challenge, and a 20 year gala this fall highlighting the history of our organization and the story of Mountain Biking in Arkansas.

In addition, the OORC is overseeing new trail builds at Gregory Park in Fayetteville's mid-town, Black Bass Lake in Carroll County, City Lake in Siloam Springs, and Lake Greenwood in Greenwood Arkansas and we have more in the works.

We look forward to the next 20 years and continuing to foster recreational opportunities throughout the Arkansas Ozarks.

Come play in the dirt with us!

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12th Annual OORC Buffalo Headwaters Challenge (2017)

Sitting and waiting at 4:30 pm on a Friday at my brother’s home, I look at my watch again as if it will help move either time or my brother’s arse quicker. The marauder is packed and the bikes loaded, I just need his bag of bones in the vehicle. The traffic in Northwest Arkansas is about to explode. Hwy 49 is about to turn into full-fledged fury road. With road construction and wheel taco-ing barriers, you are left to fend for yourself as the driver next to you posts selfies on Instagram and huffs silver paint as their halfway in your lane. Fortunately, I am driving a paid-off battering-ram with light armor, the problem is that I have three mountain bikes on the back and one on the roof. If I brake check or make a sudden rollover inducing turn, the bikes (worth far more than my vehicle) would be lost. I just need to get from Bentonville to Fayetteville, then once we pick up “The Wolfman” and his gear we are headed to Red Star.

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19-acre mountain bike park planned in Fayetteville

Mountain bikers will soon have a new place to ride in Fayetteville.

Preliminary work is underway to transform midtown’s Gregory Park into a mountain bike-focused area complete with a series of singletrack mountain biking trails, and a possible pump track and skills course.

The 19-acre wooded park, located on Sycamore Street just west of North College Avenue, was donated to the city by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 1964. It includes a pavilion, picnic area and a 0.6-mile nature trail that has been damaged in several places from erosion.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board earlier this year approved a proposal from Ozark Off-Road Cyclists to replace the damaged trail with a new multi-use path on the outer edge of the property, and to build a beginner- and intermediate-level mountain bike flow trail near the middle of the park.

Brannon Pack, executive director of OORC, said the underutilized park’s central location and proximity to neighborhoods and schools make it a perfect place for a new trail system.

“From an accessibility and usability standpoint, this will be a gem for the city of Fayetteville,” Pack said. “We believe this property is ideal for graduated flow trails offering skill level progression while still maintaining a circuitous, multi-use trail system for local hiking and biking traffic.”

Pack said area schools, including nearby Woodland Junior High, could use the park to introduce mountain biking as part of their physical education curriculum, or even develop their own National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) teams.

Alison Jumper, the city’s park planning superintendent, said maintenance of the park and trails would come through an agreement with OORC.

“That just insures that (the trails) remain open to the public,” Jumper said. “Because we sometimes get facilities open but are strapped for maintenance time, so we’d hate to put something out there and not have people be able to use it.”

Pack agreed and said maintenance would come from OORC volunteers and others in the local business community through the city’s Adopt-A-Park program. Pack said he’s already received verbal commitments for volunteer help from two nearby businesses – Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters and Creative Awards.

Chris Lankford, who lives across the street from Gregory Park on Greenvalley Avenue, said he’s excited about the project.

“I love everything about this,” Lankford said. “I’m all for any kind of development that can help clean up and bring some activity to the park.”

Lankford said removal of the thick underbrush and added maintenance on the land will help improve the security of the surrounding neighborhoods and help to minimize suspicious activity within the park.

OORC this month held two volunteer work days to help clear the trail corridor and remove invasive species, including bush honeysuckle and briar that stretch across the parkland. A third volunteer event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 31.

Pack said future grant funds are expected to pay for the actual construction work needed to build the trails, which would come sometime next year. Future phases of work, if approved, would include the pump track, skills course, and other infrastructure improvements such as parking upgrades and a crosswalk on Sycamore Street.


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Siloam Springs Makes Plans To Make City Lake A Regional Attraction

SILOAM SPRINGS (KFSM) --  Plans to make Siloam Springs City Lake a regional attraction are underway after a board of directors accepted a proposed two-year plan during a meeting Monday (Dec. 12).

The plans include a partnership with the Ozark Off Road Cyclist to build a unique bike park and skills course.

"We have plans for hikers, trail runners, dog walkers, we proposed a bird blind. We really see this piece of property and this lake servicing the outdoor recreational community," Ozark Off Road Cyclist Executive Director Brandon Pack said.

Currently bike riders in Siloam Springs are having to travel to other parts of Northwest Arkansas to ride their bikes.

Bike rider Glendon Van Sandt said that he is ready for the renovations to be completed, so he can hit the trails in his town.

"It's something that I'll use to build skills," Van Sandt said.

Phase one of the renovations is set to be complete by the end of 2017.

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