Last weekend was a rad one for mountain bikers in Greater St. Louis, as dozens of riders descended on the dirt jumps and manmade obstacles at the new Eureka Mountain Bike Park (EMBP). Our area’s first municipally funded, purpose-built mountain bike park, the EMBP opened Saturday morning adjacent to The Timbers of Eureka Recreation Center near Interstate-44 and Highway 109. The park is free and currently available for use every day from sunrise to sunset.
“It’s very exciting. The existing piece of ground was useless before this, because of the terrain, but now you see how perfect it is for mountain biking,” said Eureka Mayor Sean Flower. “You get the sense from everyone that this is big deal for our city. We have a ton of kids and youth in this area, and we’re always looking for things for them to be able to do. We think this will be a huge draw, especially with the renewed emphasis on outdoor activities. Can you think of a better place to be right now?”
The park features seven trails, including a more than 1,000-foot-long dual slalom course that lets riders race downhill against each other. The trails vary in difficulty, from a kids’ playground and pump track, to berms and rollers, to an elevated ladder (think undulating wood balance beam) and jumps of increasing heights. At the top of the park is a central hub where all the trails converge. There’s also a restroom, picnic pavilion, and a designated footpath on the north side of the property for hikers only.
The City of Eureka broke ground on the project last January and invested close to $200,000 overall, according to city administrators. Kansas City-based Nomad Trails Development and Sensus R.A.D. Trails of Reno, Nevada, designed and constructed the park. The latter is headed up by freeride mountain biking legend Cam Zink, who consulted on the dual slalom course and other features.
“A good quality, well-planned park is kind of like a well-planned trail. If you build it right, then it’s going to get tons of traffic, people are going to be safer and have more fun, and they’re going to tell their friends and bring new people to the sport,” said Zink.
New riders and, hopefully, new residents and businesses.
“Having this park is another big checkmark for us as an outdoor destination, offering something that makes Eureka even more special,” said Julie Wood, director of economic development for the City of Eureka. “And then, when you have Melvin Brewing and Mountain Bike Shed come in and put their businesses here on purpose, it tells us we’re on the right path. We’re hoping to see more businesses and services come up around our ‘brand’.”
“It’s a little slice of heaven in the middle of a suburban setting. When you’re up on the hill and looking out, and you see the view and the bikers, I think it’s really neat thing we’ve added to the city.” —Julie Wood
Eureka is already home to a wealth of outdoor resources, including well-known parks and trails, campgrounds, the Meramec River, Byerly RV, and Six Flags, as well as the above-mentioned Timbers of Eureka. The community recreation center offers a large parking lot adjacent to the new bike park, along with an outdoor pool and shower facilities, which mountain bikers can access by purchasing a day pass.
“If I could come into town and get incredible barbecue and [craft beer], go to that bike park, then go swimming afterward on the same property and be right next to my hotel…it’s too easy almost,” said Zink. “It’s so well placed. It’s perfect.”
Mayor Flower thinks so, too. He says he envisions more mountain biking trails and outdoor projects being considered should the EMBP turn out to be as big an attraction as he thinks it will be.
“The challenges were assessing the site and then putting together a team that could handle the issues [like drainage and shifting ground] and get something done,” he said. “If this park goes well, I can see us doing more of these amenities out here, and I think we have the team and the interest to pull it off.”
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.
Featured Image: Riders on the dual slalom course by Alex Noguera.