2022 Winter Goal: Raise $50,000 to professionally construct 1.5 miles of easy “green” trail in two locations in Wildwood Park.
Note: Shoals MTB has an MOU with the City of Florence to manage trail development and maintenance projects in Wildwood Park.
Strategy: As Shoals MTB, a chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), begins to implement the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions Master Plan for Wildwood Park (funded by the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA) and an IMBA Trail Solutions grant), which includes the development of 12 miles of new trails, developing those trails that can be used by the greatest number of users is our first priority. The existing trail system in Wildwood Park is geared towards experienced mountain bikers. Beginning with the development of 1.5 miles of easy – or “green” – trails will help to increase access for those with less or even no experience, helping to build trail equity for our community. The Shoals MTB is also in the process of raising funds for a bike fleet that can be used to provide access to bikes for those who do not have them, opening up educational opportunities for typically underserved communities and beginners. Shoals MTB pursuing a mixed fundraising strategy that includes working with the city of Florence on grant opportunities and soliciting private donations.
The Proposed Trails: The green trails constructed will provide connectivity and access from the parking areas to the majority of the trail system. Currently, access requires a steep, technical climb, which is not appropriate for less experienced riders. Once riders reach the main trail system, they can access a variety of trails that are more appropriate for riders of varied skill levels. The new trails will “flow,” with dips and twists, making the uphill or downhill ride fun and interesting for all riders. The trail width will average 6 feet, making it wide enough for multiple users. In other trail systems, these trails are often regarded as favorites by riders, runners, and hikers, as they are accessible, fun for all experience levels, and provide connectivity for multiple user groups, creating a sense of community for the trail system.
Costs: The attached cost sheet from the IMBA master plan breaks down the estimated expenses for the development of all of the proposed trails in Wildwood Park. The highlighted trails – A2, A2 -connector, A3, B1 and B2 – are the trails proposed for development. We are budgeting for $6-7 a foot, meaning 1.5 miles of trail can be constructed with $50,000 in 2022.
Why Professionals: Green trails are difficult to build and IMBA recommended the use of professional trail builders for their construction. Ensuring that they are accessible to the largest number of users requires a 1-2% slope, wider trail tread, and lots of finish work to make them smooth and drain well.
Opportunities: Shoals MTB can use the trail construction process as a learning opportunity to help the organization build skills in green trail construction.
Project Model: The Standing Boy Trail System in Columbus, Georgia (SBTS). SBTS also has an IMBA Trail Solutions Master Plan and an active SORBA chapter. The SBTS began by developing the most accessible trails first, creating a broad base of support in the community. As recommended by IMBA, SBTS has hired professional builders to construct the green trails. Over the past 5 years, SBTS has raised $1.5 million from private donors. To complete the 35 miles of trail development, they are currently focused on raising an additional $1 million.