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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Jami Smith FINAL STRETCH: From left, Traci Berry, trails coordinator for Visit Hot Springs, Rodney James, Mark Lovett and Jake Meredith, trail system specialist, descend down a section of the Ragnarok trail in the Northwoods Trails System on Friday. Ragnarok is the final segment of trail in the system that completes Phase One of the system. - Photo by Jami smith

Phase One of the Northwoods Trails System, which includes 15.7 miles of world-class mountain bike trails, is now complete, Visit Hot Springs officials said Monday.

Traci Berry, trails coordinator for Visit Hot Springs, said the completion of Phase One comes with the opening of the final segment of trail in the project, which is less than 10 minutes from downtown Hot Springs.

"With the opening of the Ragnarok trail, the system of biking trails in the Northwoods system now offers 15.7 miles of purpose-built mountain biking trails," Berry said in a news release on Monday.

"Ragnarok is a super-fun downhill flow trail that has plenty of features for the advanced rider to play around on, and also allows riders who aren't quite as comfortable catching air to keep their rubber down. The trail descends for almost a mile off the back of Hub H, dropping in at the transition of Dream Catcher and Wishbone trails. Riders will descend for almost a mile to just below the base of the Bethel Dam and then have a short rocky climb out to the midpoint of Valkyrie trail."

Berry told The Sentinel-Record in an interview on Monday that the completion of the first phase will be celebrated Saturday during the Northwoods' monthly full moon ride.

"This Saturday we will do our monthly full moon ride and we're planning a little celebration," she said, adding there won't be a "log-cutting ceremony" as there has been for past trail openings, "but there will be music and some fun things."

In February, the Walton Family Foundation awarded a grant of $450,000 for improvements to the existing 10 miles of Cedar Glades Trails, which Berry said began last week, as well. Improvements are being carried out by the International Bicycling Association's Trail Solutions crew and Berry said mostly include cleaning up of existing trails and "making them more consistent with the rating scale."

"The crew will also build a few new sections of Cedar Glades trail and begin making improvements to the trailhead," Berry said in the release. "The trail builders plan to work at Cedar Glades for the month of May before taking the summer off of the project and returning in the fall of this year to complete the improvements and additions.

"This is all so exciting for our community, our county, and our state."

Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said discussions on Phase Two will hopefully begin around the end of this year. Once completed, Arrison said Phase Two will provide 44.6 miles of mountain bike trails that will be among the best in North America.

"We're pleased by the number of people -- not only bikers, but hikers -- who are out on the trails every day," Arrison said. "I think anybody that's not on a mountain bike is out fishing on Lake Hamilton."

Berry said in the six months that the trail system has been open, she has seen people from all over the United States and other countries visiting Hot Springs to ride the trails.

"There's so many different ways you can ride the trails. Of course with the Cedar Glades Trails and the improvements there, this will give people a lot more variety," she said. "It's pretty amazing. I can go on any pretty weekend and the parking lot will be packed, people will be parked up the street, but you still very seldom run into people on the trails. I think having 15.7 miles of trails spreads the traffic out."

Berry said that, on any given day, she will see at least two out-of-state license plates on vehicles parked at the trailhead.

On any given day we will see at least two out-of-state license plates on vehicles parked at the trailhead.

"Even better than the people we have coming in from all over is the number of local riders we see out on the trails on a daily basis," she said in the release. "We definitely have something special here in Hot Springs and with the planning of additional phases, it is just going to get better. The adventure has just begun."

The Northwoods Trail System mountain biking facility is located in the northern section of Hot Springs.

Visit Hot Springs began construction in November 2017 on Phase One of the Northwoods system, with assistance from Tom Walton, Steuart Walton and the Walton Family Foundation.

Local on 05/14/2019

Print Headline: Ragnarok marks end of first phase

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