Parks OKs new downhill mountain bike recreation area
Lake Leatherwood City Park is going
downhill in a good way.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Eureka Springs
Parks and Recreation Commission voted to
approve a cooperative agreement between
the commission and the Walton Family
Foundation to build a new downhill feature
for mountain bikers at the park.
Parks director Justin Huss recalled when
the commission asked Huss to negotiate
trail-specific grants at a 10 percent match
up to $100,000, including a heritage inventory
at Lake Leatherwood. Huss said he’s
been working with the Walton Foundation
since that meeting to get the trail project going,
saying the foundation wants to expand
the downhill course for mountain bikers
near the Miner’s Rock Trail.
“Miner’s Rock has several concerns,”
It’s not on city property, he said, and the
proposed downhill expansion would intersect
with the trail in several places.
“They’ve offered up a few solutions. We
haven’t cared for any of them yet, because
we feel this is an iconic trail and that’s
something that needs to be addressed and
incorporated and can be done,” Huss said.
The project is cooperative, he said, where
the commission commits $50,000 to work
on the Miner’s Rock route to add bridges
and flyovers. The new downhill courses
and drop-in location improvements will
allow for shuttles to take riders from the
bottom to the top of the course, Huss said,
for enduro-style races and recreational use.
“They wanted to start weeks ago,”
Huss said. “This is a multi-year deal. This
is something we’ll be doing for four, five
Huss presented some information from
the heritage inventory to the commission,
pointing out existing glades at Lake Leatherwood.
Commissioner Steven Foster said
a glade is a unique habitat with herbaceous
“These glades have existed basically
since flowering plants first evolved on the
planet,” Foster said.
Foster said he supports the new downhill
courses but not because he wants to bring
tourists to the park.
“I don’t care about the tourists and I
don’t care about tourism. My interest is in
the biological and environmental integrity
of Lake Leatherwood City Park and not
only its biological assets but its natural history
assets as well,” Foster said.
Aaron Rodgers will be designing the
trail, Foster said, and he’s excited about
that. Rodgers has a botany degree, Foster
“One of the specialties of his company is
low-impact development,” Foster said.
Huss said more downhill courses will
make Eureka Springs stand out as a destination
for mountain bikers from all over the
“When I was at New Orleans at the parks
and recreation conference … this is what
people are building,” Huss said. “There’s
places in Virginia where they’re building
three. To be able to shuttle people to the top
as they’re riding is not only the key aspect
of this enduro-racing stuff they’re doing,
but it’s also potential for revenue.”
No matter what happens, Huss said, he
plans to keep the integrity of Miner’s Rock.
“We want to preserve as much of the actual
trail as we can and what we can’t preserve
of that, we want to mimic and honor
in what we do,” Huss said.
Chairman Bill Featherstone said he’s
completely behind the idea.
“The downhill racers … they’re the
skateboarders of mountain bikers. They’re
the snowboarders of mountain bikers,”
Featherstone said. “They’re the ones on the
edge looking for excitement. It’s a growing
part of mountain biking in general.”
Commissioner Ferguson Stewart agreed.
“We’re not only looking at bringing in
a large quantity of individuals, but they’re
going to stay for other things,” Stewart said.
“It gives us something a little different,”
Commissioner Ruth Hager moved to approve
the cooperative agreement, and the
commission agreed to do so.
The commission’s next regular meeting
is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at