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Volunteers adding mountain bike trails at Ohiopyle State Park

September 19, 2018
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Clubber, a 2-year-old mix dog, sits on newly dug sections of trail recently while members of the Ohiopyle Biking Club work on creating new trails on Sugarloaf Mountain at Ohiopyle State Park, during construction of the new McClure Trail connector, a multi-use trail for mountain biking, trail running and hiking.

A network of mountain biking trails is coming to Ohiopyle State Park.

But first, a lot of hard work will be required by members of the Ohiopyle Biking Club.

“We are dealing with a lot of rock,” said Scott Bortree, club president.

Club members volunteer weekly to build new trails atop Sugarloaf Mountain and reconstruct parts of existing ones. They plan a 12-mile “falls-to-summit” path between Ohiopyle and the mountain in addition to connecting several other new and existing trails which will range from easy to difficult for riders.

It’s been a couple years in the making as state officials have a slow-moving, rigorous review procedure, park manager Ken Bisbee said.

“It’s probably about a six-month process to even get a section of trail approved,” he said. “We’re looking for a long-term commitment from them.”

While the network is years from being completed, the club was established a couple years ago and members regularly work with hand tools off of Sugarloaf Mountain Road. Some of the existing multi-purpose trails were old logging paths or gravel roads that need some tweaks to make them more mountain-bike friendly.

“They’re OK to hike, but they’re not very good for riding,” said Bortree of Ohiopyle.

In other spots, volunteers are clearing downed trees and brush to make way for a new trail. But those paths won’t just be for bikes.

“All these trails are going to be multi-use as well,” said club Vice President Zach Yomboro of Acme. “It’s going to be more trails for everybody.”

It’s an opportunity for Pennsylvania’s largest state park to attract more visitors for a different type of recreation. With bicyclers already visiting Ohiopyle for the Great Allegheny Passage, the planned mountain biking system is another recreational option, club members said.

“These will be fun trails to run,” said John Jeffries of East Pittsburgh.

Groups interested in adding new recreational opportunities at state parks are welcome to contact state bureau officials, but there must be a commitment from that organization for future maintenance, said Terry Brady, press secretary at the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The park’s current resources are taken into consideration when deciding whether to add a recreational opportunity.

Bisbee oversaw the construction of 20 miles of mountain biking trails at Yellow Creek State Park in Indiana County, a process which he said took about 10 years. The Ohiopyle club members hope to eventually raise money to put up trail markers and signs.

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