Paved trails at Walnut Creek Recreation Area might be getting a little less crowded.
Parks officials are working with a local group, Trails Have Our Respect (THOR), to build a mountain bike trail along the northern edge of the park, below the dam.
“Walnut Creek already stands as a very mixed use recreation area. That was just another group of people who could get enjoyment out of using the recreation area,” said Mike Cunningham, parks superintendent. “I think it will be a great addition to the area. It gives people another option to fill their leisure time with.”
Jeff Schram, a member of THOR, approached Cunningham with the project about nine months ago. Since then, they’ve been planning the trail.
“There’s no mountain bike trails in the Papillion area,” Schram said. “I know there’s a lot of kids in the area and I wanted something closer where my son and I could mountain bike after school.”
The trail, funded by THOR, will be built and maintained by the group. Construction on the trail started about one month ago and is expected to be completed sometime in June.
Schram said they’re interested in extending the trail with more ground along the tree line. But the city will have to allocate the land for THOR to use in the future.
So far, more than 100 volunteer hours have been spent on building the trail, Schram said.
To build the 2.3-mile trail, THOR volunteers have been clearing out dead and fallen trees to make a single track on the ground. They’ve also built two bridges along the trail.
THOR has built a number of trails in the area, including a mountain bike and equestrian trail at Swanson Park and Jewell Park, both in Bellevue.
“We’re extremely busy on the paved trail already, so it’s going to be a great addition to those people who have the mountain bikes and can ride on trails,” Cunningham said.
The dirt mountain bike trail, with some log jumps and bridges, will take more technical riding. Most of the technical features will have a bypass so less experienced riders can navigate around them, Schram said.
“It will break up the boring concrete ride,” Cunningham said.
The trail won’t be visible from the paved walking path. Once vegetation grows this spring, walkers won’t know the bike course is hidden in the trees.
“Just like any activity, we don’t want it to leave a lasting impact on the facility,” Cunningham said. “We’re always keeping conservation at the top of our list of anything that’s done out here.”