A new mountain bike terrain park designed for beginners and experts alike is bringing visitors from around the region to Crystal Springs.
Opened for just around a month, the terrain park has already brought in mountain bike junkies from as near as Pulaski and as far away as Boone, North Carolina. And the town hasn’t even advertised its opening yet.
“Word travels fast in the mountain bike community,” said Tony Duncan.
Duncan, a mountain bike enthusiast and horticulturist for the town of Wytheville, spearheaded the terrain park project after he, Parks and Recreation Director Rick Showalter and Mayor Beth Taylor began brainstorming ideas to get locals active and attract visitors to the area.
Duncan had wanted to develop the area for mountain bikers for quite some time and was quick to suggest the idea. He and his crew took on the project in November, working during their winter downtime. Last month they wrapped up what Duncan called the first phase of the project.
Designed to help beginners and children get a feel for the sport before they get out on the trails, the terrain park features novice obstacles like launch ramps, balance beams, domes and drop ramps, as well as skilled features like a teeter-totter, rock drops and gardens, and ramp walls, among others.
“The main purpose of this is to give beginners and kids a chance to learn mountain biking, so they don’t have to get out on the big trails and get away from the parking area to develop those skills,” Duncan said.
Town employee David Anderson helped construct the park and its surrounding trails. Anderson, who was on the trails Wednesday afternoon, said the park’s features are ideal for beginners to learn critical skills like balance, endurance, handling and maneuvering, and using the bike’s gears.
And having the park’s features in proximity to one another makes for easy transitions, he said.
“If you want to explore another feature, you don’t have to ride forever to get to it.”
It’s also ideal for family adventures. Anderson noted that he’s been able to take on the advanced features at the park while still being able to keep an eye on his son riding on the easier ones.
Using natural features, like boulders and natural inclines, the park has a minimal impact on the environment.
“We like to blend in with the environment as much as we can,” Duncan said.
Using those natural features along with using donated scrap material also allowed for minimal spending. New materials for the project only ran around $5,000.
Showalter said the terrain park could help attract large numbers of visitors to the area.
“With all the terrain we have up there with the town property and all the wilderness, there’s potential to have that spot as a premier mountain biking destination,” he said.
Duncan noted that the mountain biking community in Wytheville and Wythe County is expanding. The park allows for new opportunities for the growing community to get its fix.
“There’s always been a pretty good group of bikers here in Wytheville, but it’s growing every year.”
Once beginners master the needed skills, they can then take on one or all of three trails surrounding the terrain park. The recreation area and its trails and creeks also offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, picnicking and camping.
Future expansions to the park and trail system are also in the works. Duncan plans to resume work on the terrain park and build additional extensive trails with steeper grades for downhill biking. Four miles of such trail is planned for the fall.
With 1,800 acres to work with, the possibilities are almost without limit.
For more information on the terrain park and other opportunities at Crystal Springs, visit the town’s website at www.wytheville.org.