Venture: Mountain biking at Chestnut Ridge
The mountain-bike trail taking shape at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park will include roughly 12 miles of banked turns, woody runs, rock gardens and steep climbs through the Carroll preserve's gorgeous hills.
Workers with the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization have built about six miles so far and expect to open the trail by fall, said Brian Adams, the cycling group's liaison to the county park system.
Mountain biking in the Metro Parks was first proposed more than 10 years ago - and this trail should prove to be worth the wait. Riders will traverse fresh terrain, and park managers will showcase a largely unused section of the park about 20 miles southeast of Columbus.
"If [a trail is] not done right, it's never going to last," Adams explained.
The COMBO trail will be located on the west side of Amanda Northern Road. Metro Parks plans to build a separate entrance and parking lot for bikers.
When the trail opens, intermediate riders will enjoy a loop that avoids most of the grueling climbs and technical components. A steeper, rockier portion for advanced riders will rival the off-road experience at Dillon State Park.
One trail section will pass an Adena Indian mound, Adams said, while another will include an overlook that peers to the Downtown skyline. The trail offers an elevation gain of 220 vertical feet - a rarity in Central Ohio.
"Metro Parks has opened up to things that normally wouldn't be part of the mission," said Larry Peck, the organization's deputy director. "Things change over time. Organizations adapt."
Protecting natural spaces remains the park system's top priority, but it continues to develop a bit of an adventurous streak as leaders encourage healthy lifestyles and reach new visitors.
"Here you have one of the more beautiful areas of the park district that no one knows anything about," Peck added. "I think the property is very attractive to the mountain-bike community and gives us an opportunity to use an area that you could say is under-utilized."
Lend a hand:
Volunteers work every other weekend to build the mountain-bike trail at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park. For details, check the message boards at mtbohio.com.