The newest mountain bike park in the Show Me State opened with a ribbon cutting and celebration on Memorial Day weekend in St. Joseph, Missouri. Offering about 15 miles of total trail, River Bluff Trails Park was created for users of all abilities and includes cross-country style routes, downhill runs, flow lines, multi-use hiking and biking trails, and a hard surface/crushed limestone path along the top of the bluff.
The project started in fall 2019, when the St. Joseph City Council approved funding for a new Riverfront Master Plan. “The focus of the plan is to renovate the entire area [along the waterfront], but there are lots of individual projects that can’t be started yet,” said council member and mountain biker Madison Davis. “This land couldn’t be used for much else and was available right away.”
Davis says there have been dirt trails in the area for decades. The city consulted with St. Louis-based Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) and brought in Nomad Trails Development of Kansas City to connect and construct the new sections. The $3 million project also includes a bridge over Highland Avenue that links River Bluff Trails Park to Huston Wyeth Park.
“This is a great way for us to expand our natural amenities for everyone, residents and visitors alike,” said Davis.
The draw to these particular trails is the topography. “In some cases, the elevation drops 200 feet or more in just a mile or so,” Davis said. “The terrain is limestone bluffs with lush, sandy dirt that dries well. They’ll be some rocky, technical sections. One trail goes right between two boulders that are just 800 millimeters apart.”
City officials hope the park will attract tourism and boost economy. St. Joseph already boasts a 26-mile bikeway that ribbons throughout the city from north to south and connects to other parks.
Phase two of River Bluff Trails Park is expected to open in 2023 and will add more downhill lines as well as a kids’ park with pump track.
“If the trails are done right, which they will be, and we do all the right things behind the scenes from a programming aspect and create the right relationships, I think this is going to be one of the biggest booms in tourism in St. Joseph in a long time,” Parks Director Chuck Kempf told the St. Joseph News–Press.