2018-07-26 / Outdoors

New mountain biking trail in reserve


PALMER WOODS will have a new mountain biking trail for riders to enjoy by the beginning of fall. This is a picture of the beautiful Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. Photo: Emily Stuhldreher PALMER WOODS will have a new mountain biking trail for riders to enjoy by the beginning of fall. This is a picture of the beautiful Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. Photo: Emily Stuhldreher Palmer Woods is getting mountain bike trails.

The Leelanau Conservancy has selected a contractor to build a mountain bike trail at the Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. It will be the first flow-style trails north of Grand Rapids in the Lower Peninsula.

Flowtrack Mountain Bike Trails, LLC, is a professional trail-building company from the Upper Peninsula, and has been hired to lead the design and construction of the new trails.

“We are looking forward to working with Flowtrack to create flow-style trails rich in features,” Leelanau Conservancy Manager Becky Hill said. “They have extensive experience building sustainable, durable trails in all soil types including the distinctly sandy soils we have here. I really admire their passion and professionalism.”

The single-track mountain bike trail will be separate from existing trails. The first loop is expected to open to the public in the fall of this year. The trail will have two separate routes to take, making the trail appropriate for riders of all ages and experiences.

“The terrain at Palmer Woods Forest Reserve will lend itself well to the development of mountain bike trails,” Flowtrack owner and Traverse City native Matt Belic said. “With a general mix of steep and shallow hillsides of all different lengths, and a good amount of elevation, we’ll be able to build all sorts of fun and flow.”

At the end of 2019, the Palmer Woods trail will offer over six miles of mountain biking trails and nearly seven miles of hiking and groomed cross country ski trails for the public. When the system is complete in 2021, it will have over nine miles of hiking and skiing trails and over 11 miles of mountain biking trails.

“Palmer Woods has similar soil and terrain features as some of our past projects,” Belic said. “We are confident this will be a unique, fun, and sustainable trail system for mountain bikers of all ages.”

Palmer Woods will be a four-season recreation destination for all ages and abilities after 2021. According to Tom Nelson, the county is excited about the new trails and is ready for the work to start.

“We’re thrilled to offer Leelanau families more high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities close to home,” Nelson said. “We also look forward to breaking ground next month when we begin building the first extensive mountain biking trail system in Leelanau County.”

According to Nelson, none of this would be possible without the help of the sponsors and donors, in particular the Edmond F. and Virginia B. Ball Family Foundation.

“Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association and Bike Leelanau have also been instrumental partners in the planning for the most sustainable way to create these quality trails,” Nelson said.

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