Construction begins on Cincinnati’s first mountain bike trail at Mt. Airy Forest

After years of debate on the feasibility of a bike trail and the potential impacts on the ecosystem, a partnership between Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA) and the City of Cincinnati Park Board, along with a grant from REI, initiated construction on the city’s first mountain bike trail that will benefit the community without negatively impacting the park.


The ground breaking took place July 3rd and CORA has been working vigilantly ever since.

When the park board was first approached about building a mountain bike trail over five years ago, they began researching similar paths in other parks.


There was a real difference of opinion, according to park board superintendent Steve Shuckman. A common question, he says, was: “Did bike tire tread do more damage than hiking boots?” The initial conclusion was that damage to the park would be too great, as would the cost of building the trail.


Then two or three years ago, it came up again.


This time around, the park board consulted with CORA, a non-profit established in 1997 that maintains more than 60 miles of trails in the Greater Cincinnati area, and two other parks with thriving mountain bike trails: Devou Park in Covington and Mitchell Memorial in Miami Township.


Between CORA’s expertise of maintaining a trail to mitigate erosion and drainage issues and the immensely effective volunteer effort to maintain the trails on a weekly basis, the possibility of sustaining a trail and minimizing its negative impact on the rest of the park became tangible.


CORA and the park board began walking Mt. Airy to mark a trail that would minimize impact on erosion, wildflowers, and trees, according to Shuckman. So far, they have managed to clear a mile and a half of trail, most of which meant removing the dreaded honeysuckle: A win/win for riders and the ecosystem as honeysuckle is a highly invasive species.


The trail will be about four miles, with two loops for different skill levels. Work on the first loop began in early July and will hopefully be completed in fall 2018.


Park director Wade Walcutt explains that this is a trail that everyone can enjoy, whether they are bikers, runners, or hikers.


The park board focused on input from community members and business owners. Judi LoPresti, co-owner of SPUN Bicycles in Northside, expresses her excitement for the trail. She explains that the trail will be good for the community, for businesses, and for riders. “I think we’re going to see a lot more people trail riding,” she says. In anticipation of the trail, SPUN will offer mountain bikes for newbies to rent.


SPUN also helped facilitate a benefit for CORA at the Littlefield in Northside. A drink of the month will be featured with proceeds going to CORA for the month of January. SPUN will co-host a happy hour.


McClintock explains CORA’s goal to show the real side of mountain bike riders. “We’re mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, doctors, factory workers,” he says. “Just regular people.”

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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants