ST. GEORGE — Southern Utah’s largest bicycle skills park officially opens this weekend in St. George.
A ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony will be held the morning of Nov. 17 for Snake Hollow St. George Bike Park, located across the street of the east side of Snow Canyon High School in the Sand Hollow Wash area between Lava Flow Drive and Tuweap Drive.
After nearly six months, the first phase of the park’s construction is complete, featuring tracks, courses and loops for riders of all ages and skill levels.
The park’s skill-training areas include gravity jump trails, drop zones and pump tracks, among others. The various courses and trails are located primarily on the west side of the park along Lava Flow Drive, with some additional courses on the east side along Tuweap Drive.
The city-owned public park was built at a cost of $1.7 million, about $300,000 above the original bid, using money allocated for the project from the city’s recreation, arts and parks tax fund, with additional substantial contribution from the Washington County Convention and Tourism Office.
In addition to the skills tracks, park features include a pavilion, restrooms, paved trails, landscaping, utility connections and a gravel parking area.
One major feature that didn’t make it into the first phase of construction is the planned cross-country trail loop. It is scheduled for construction in the project’s second phase, anticipated to begin in spring 2019, along with additional pavilions and restrooms, paved parking areas and a playground. The second phase is expected to cost an additional $300,000-$400,000.
Once the cross-country trail is built, the park is anticipated to hold National Interscholastic Cycling Association riding competitions featuring regional and possibly statewide high school races. Organizations that specialize in mountain biking have also expressed interest in using the park for training camps.
Though it has potential for hosting competitions and summer camps, more than anything, the park was built with the intent of providing a free outdoor environment that encourages recreation and exercise for community members in Southern Utah.
“The hope is not to make it an event venue,” St. George Support Services Director Marc Mortensen said. “It really is just for open access to the public.”
Mortensen said visitors from all over the state and region are welcome to come use the park – city and county officials believe it has the potential to bring tourism dollars to St. George and surrounding municipalities.
“It’s received a lot of statewide appeal,” Mortensen said. “It’s the only bike park that will be open year-round in the state of Utah.”
Operating year-round will allow the park to serve one of its primary functions as a continuous training ground for cyclists of all skill levels. Tracks range in difficulty from complete beginner to seasoned expert.
“The goal is to progress,” Mortensen said. “You start small and you start to learn your balance, pumping and jumping.”
The training experience is ideal for preparing cyclists for the extensive mountain bike trail system in Washington County
“You learn in a controlled environment and then when you’re out on the trails, it feels like second nature,” Mortensen said. “I always say, if you’re a good rider in Washington County, you’re a great rider anywhere else because we have some of the most difficult terrain.”
One trail specifically trains riders to navigate jagged lava rock, while another teaches its rider to negotiate hilly terrain. Other tracks function entirely to facilitate jumps for the daredevils-at-heart.
The trails are expected to see heavy use – a fact already apparent by the many youth who are using the park daily despite prominently displayed “no trespassing” signs intended to keep people out until the park’s official opening Saturday.
With such heavy use, the city has plans in place for regular maintenance and upkeep. One full-time employee will be assigned to the park with help from an additional part-time worker. City street crews will be brought in for larger repair projects.
The park has the potential to expand beyond the two originally planned phases, with a possible “toddler minitrack” on the horizon. The city will also modify or implement new features based on community feedback.
People interested in volunteering at the park can learn about opportunities at this weekend’s grand opening event.
The city encourages guests at the grand opening to bring their own bicycles to try out all the park has to offer. Just don’t forget your helmet – anyone using park features is required to wear one at all times.
- What: Snake Hollow St. George Bike Park grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
- When: Saturday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m.
- Where: 1400 N. Lava Flow Drive, St. George.
- Cost: Free and open to the public.
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