Something is happening in St. Louis . Some might call it a groundswell. Others, a movement. Those leading the charge — a modern direction.
Mountain biking is on the rise in the region, and nowhere is that more apparent than the City of Eureka. Already home to some local single-track favorites — think Chubb Trail and Greensfelder County Park in neighboring Wildwood — this winter alone the city invested close to $100,000 dollars in a new mountain bike skills park: the Eureka Mountain Bike Park (EMBP), set to open this spring. The park is being constructed adjacent to the popular Timbers of Eureka Recreational Center, just south of the Interstate 44/Highway 109 interchange.
“We are SO excited!” raved Julie Wood, director of economic development for the City of Eureka. “Eureka already has so much to offer — biking, hiking, rivers, equestrian trails. Adding a mountain bike skills park was a huge step in continuing to develop Eureka as the ‘go-to’ destination for outdoor-lovers in and around St. Louis.”
The skills park will be the first of its kind in the area. “We looked at the Bentonville, Arkansas model and thought ‘What does outdoor recreation bring to a community?’” Wood continued. “Cafes, bike shops, breweries — we’ve seen so many new businesses open in the past few years. What we’re doing is working.”
“The park is funded by the city and will be built on existing city property, so we are also improving an existing city asset that was not being used,” added Eureka Mayor Sean Flower. “I believe the Eureka Mountain Bike Park will attract both new residents and business to the city, and potentially spur Eureka to become one of the premier outdoor cities in St. Louis.”
For proof, one has to look no further than the Mountain Bike Shed, a boutique bike shop that St. Louis-native Adam Scott opened in Eureka in April 2018. “I looked at the trends in the outdoor arena around St. Louis,” he said. “Mountain biking was taking off, and I had to get in on the ground level.”
Toward that end, Scott and fellow Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) member Dave Schulz formed GORC Gravity in 2019; it’s a subsidiary of GORC focused on inclusive, gravity-based trails and parks. (See our full story on the development of GORC Gravity here.)
“Our focus is developing parks and trails that are rollable, family-friendly, non-exclusionary, and for the entire community,” Schulz told me. “We’re developing a process — a proven method that can be easily replicated throughout the area to complement and connect the current trail systems already in place.”
Talking with Scott and Schulz, it’s clear these two are passionate about the growth of the sport in St. Louis — and their involvement was key in getting the EMBP project approved.
Speaking of which, the Eureka Mountain Bike Park is going to be a mountain biker’s dream. Berms, rollers, drops, tabletops — for those unfamiliar with the sport, these are technical features riders associate (and expect) with such parks. It’s how they develop their on-trail skills.
According to Brett Shoffner, owner/operator of Kansas City-based Nomad Trails Development, the company Eureka contracted to build the park, the EMBP is going to be chock full of them.
“We’re developing full-on features, things totally new to the area,” Shoffner said.
In addition, there will be a Strider playground, an area with smaller challenges meant for kids just learning to ride their bikes, and a pump track, a trail specifically designed for riders to develop the skill of “pumping” through a course versus pedaling. All trails will branch out from a central elevated hub, which is to be constructed of locally sourced sandstone. Users will also have access to paved parking and bathrooms, an outdoor pool at the Timbers, and nearby restaurants and shops.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of the park will be the dual slalom course: side-by-side trails allowing riders to test their skills against one another as they race down the course. Shoffner has partnered with professional mountain biker and dual-slalom legend Cam Zink for this feature. Zink’s company, Sensus R.A.D. Trails, will design the dual slalom, bringing world-class insight and top-tier trail experience to the EMBP — something St. Louis has been lacking. (See our video interview with Zink about the project here.)
“He’s the real deal. If anyone knows dual slaloms, it’s Cam Zink,” Shoffner said. “R.A.D. is so dialed-in. They know exactly what they’re doing with slalom, and they do it right.”
You can’t argue with that….
Nomad Trails was scheduled to break ground on Monday, January 13, but with weather conditions changing by the minute, plans were up in the air at deadline. “We’re aiming [for completion] mid-March. We’d like to have the park open by the time schools go on spring break,” Shoffner said.
As we’re all familiar with the fickleness of Missouri winters, time will tell. However, it won’t be long now.
Something is happening in St. Louis, and being mountain bikers ourselves, we at Terrain are stoked to see where the modern direction is headed.
Author: Nick Tilley is a regular contributor to Terrain Magazine.
Photo: Dave Schulz on Zombie Trail in Wildwood, Mo. Courtesy of Alex Noguera.