Bike park will be first in the state

By on July 2, 2019

The Heatherwood Bike Park will not only offer something fresh and new to Ephrata, but to all of Lancaster County.

The mountain biking park is a collaborative effort between Mainspring of Ephrata and the Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association (SAMBA), and is supported by Ephrata Borough council.

Local breweries — Black Forest Brewery, St. Boniface Craft Brewing, and Pour Man’s Brewing Company — have contributed to the project by concocting a special brew called “Ales for Trails.” A portion of the funds from pint purchases is donated to the Heatherwood Bike Park project.

The idea for a bike park was formulated in late winter and a proposal was submitted to the Ephrata Borough council for consideration in February.

Eric Willetts and Colin Zucchi, two Ephrata rising sophomores, have been riding their bikes back in the Heatherwood Park area for a while, but definitely see the need for official trails.

“There are no pre-existing mountain bike trails in Ephrata,” said Zucchi.

Mainspring Ephrata Bike Park Committee pictured (front row left to right) Lisa Willwerth, SAMBA President Nick Loftus, Mainspring Board Member David Boland, Kelly Withum, SAMBA Matt Knepper; (back l-r) St. Boniface Mike Price, Black Forest Brewery and Mainspring Board President Bob Harter, EHS student Eric Willetts, Green Mountain Cyclery Mike Farrington, EHS student Colin Zucchi and Pour Man’s Brewery Ryan Foltz. Photo by Missi Mortimer.

“This park will be open to everyone,” added Willetts. “All ages will be welcome.”

Willetts and Zucchi have been mountain biking enthusiasts for years and are passionate about being involved with such an original and valuable community project. They are working with

Mainspring of Ephrata and SAMBA to make the collective dreams of a mountain biking park become a reality.

Kelly Withum, executive director of Mainspring of Ephrata, contacted SAMBA president Nick Loftus to see if SAMBA would be interested in getting involved with the project. After a walk-through of the property to determine whether it was a good candidate for having trails constructed, SAMBA agreed.

“It will all be built by volunteers and by donation,” said Matt Knepper, SAMBA trail liaison. The park will truly be a collaborative community project.

The unique aspect of Heatherwood Bike Park is that it will be a community addition for all ages, from toddlers to adults. It will be “three-tiered.”

The first “tier” is referred to as the Balance Bike Learning Area. This will be a playground designed for the purpose of helping children learn how to ride. It will offer skill-building features to help kids or beginners build confidence, such as low wooden bridges and small rollers.

The second “tier” is called the Skills Area, which will provide bikers with the opportunity to broaden their skill sets on features such as ladder bridges, rock gardens, and log rides. This area will be a step up in difficulty from the Balance Bike Learning Area.

The third and final “tier” is called the Gateway Single Track Trail. This trail will be an introduction for riders to the larger types of mountain biking trails in the region. It will provide an opportunity to put the skills learned on the two other tiers into use on a real biking trail, that will additionally be constructed for hiking and trail running. This trail is for everyone — beginners and experts alike.

SAMBA will coordinate the volunteers for construction, and the majority of work will occur on weekends. SAMBA is trained to work in environmentally conscious ways that won’t erode the woods surrounding the trails. The park is projected to be completed in three months, weather permitting. It is estimated that it will take about 300 hours of volunteer time to clear brush for the trails.

In addition to the breweries, other businesses in the community are getting involved. Green Mountain Cyclery will be donating some materials, and Quality Bike Products is donating a fix-it station that will be located right off the trail, available for all bikers to utilize.

“This is truly a community project,” said Withum. “That was the greater goal — to get the community excited, to see change, to incorporate youth, businesses, and the community.”

A GoFundMe page set up for the account has raised almost over $2,800. The goal is to raise $8,500 for the project. If you would like to donate monetarily, visit gofundme.com/bike-ephrata-mountain-biking-at-heatherwood-park, or visit the Mainspring of Ephrata Facebook page to donate materials or time.

Aubree Fahringer is the Cocalico editor for The Ephrata Review. 

2 Comments

  1. Mike Vandeman

    July 2, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    What were you thinking??? Mountain biking and trail-building destroy wildlife habitat! Mountain biking is environmentally, socially, and medically destructive!

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: https://mjvande.info/mtb10.htm . It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see https://mjvande.info/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Mountain bikers also love to build new trails – legally or illegally. Of course, trail-building destroys wildlife habitat – not just in the trail bed, but in a wide swath to both sides of the trail! E.g. grizzlies can hear a human from one mile away, and smell us from 5 miles away. Thus, a 10-mile trail represents 100 square miles of destroyed or degraded habitat, that animals are inhibited from using. Mountain biking, trail building, and trail maintenance all increase the number of people in the park, thereby preventing the animals’ full use of their habitat. See https://mjvande.info/scb9.htm for details.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s good about THAT?

    To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video: http://vimeo.com/48784297.

    In addition to all of this, it is extremely dangerous: https://mjvande.info/mtb_dangerous.htm .

    For more information: https://mjvande.info/mtbfaq.htm .

    The common thread among those who want more recreation in our parks is total ignorance about and disinterest in the wildlife whose homes these parks are. Yes, if humans are the only beings that matter, it is simply a conflict among humans (but even then, allowing bikes on trails harms the MAJORITY of park users — hikers and equestrians — who can no longer safely and peacefully enjoy their parks).

    The parks aren’t gymnasiums or racetracks or even human playgrounds. They are WILDLIFE HABITAT, which is precisely why they are attractive to humans. Activities such as mountain biking, that destroy habitat, violate the charter of the parks.

    Even kayaking and rafting, which give humans access to the entirety of a water body, prevent the wildlife that live there from making full use of their habitat, and should not be allowed. Of course those who think that only humans matter won’t understand what I am talking about — an indication of the sad state of our culture and educational system.

  2. Ron

    September 2, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I saw it while riding the rail trail and I can’t wait to try it out!

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