New Paths: Trails under construction on Passion Play grounds

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Great Passion Play has begun the first

phase of construction on hiking and biking

trails on the Passion Play grounds in Eureka

Springs.

Renowned mountain bike and recreational

trail builder Tony Boone and his

crew started building the first 5-mile loop of

what is planned to be more than 18 miles of

trails on the almost 700-acre complex of the

Great Passion Play.

“We started building hiking and nature

trails through the Holy Land Tour area with

youth mission trip groups in summer 2016

and it really started to snowball from there,”

said Kent Butler, director of marketing for

the play. “After hiking the trails with members

of the local Carroll County Ozark Off

Road Cyclists organization in fall 2016, we

saw that hiking was just the beginning and

that mountain biking especially was something

that people wanted to do. We soon got

connected with Brannon Pack, the executive

director for Ozark Off Road Cyclists, who

really became a catalyst in this project.”

The Ozark Off Road Cyclists non-profit

organization has helped build notable trails

in Devil’s Den State Park, Hobbs State Park

and in Lake Leatherwood Park in Eureka

Springs, among many others.

“You can feel the synergy at work with

the Passion Play, our organization, the NWA

Trailblazers, and with Tony Boone coming

into the picture,” Pack said. “Tony literally

helped write the book on building awesome

single-track and great riding experiences for

the International Mountain Bike Association.”

“When I came into Eureka Springs in

2016, I said that we were going to have a

trail system that’ll be the envy of all in the

area,” said Eureka Springs parks director

Justin Huss. “We have made great strides in

making that a reality and this makes it even

more so. Our goal of connecting the great

trails of Lake Leatherwood to Black Bass

to trails in town to now the potential of the

Passion Play is really an amazing opportunity.”

“The Christ of the Ozarks has been open

free to the public year-round since it was

built in 1966,” said Randall Christy, the

play’s executive director. “And, we are excited

for the rest of the undeveloped property

to be open for people to experience as

well. There are things for people to do yearround

here on the Passion Play grounds already

and this just adds quite a bit to that.”

“During these next few weeks my team

will be building the five-mile loop which

will be for beginners and will provide Eureka

Springs and the Passion Play with another

great attraction for Mountain bikers,”

Boone said. “We have crafted a master plan

that features 18 miles of potential trails on

the Passion Play’s undeveloped property.”

Boone added that his company has already

committed to building trails in other

locations during the year, so the first phase

of the five-mile trail loop is all that is on

the docket to be completed before summer.

“It’s a big project and the dip in temperatures

made it a pretty slow start. Our plan is

to finish this five-mile trail and then come

back during the last quarter of 2018 to complete

the rest with the hopeful completion

date sometime in 2019. People are really

going to enjoy using our stacked loop trail

system.”

The five-mile trail loop is designed to be

friendly to all user groups and skill levels

which includes hikers and mountain bikers

of all ages.

“When finished, these trails will be a

good and easier contrast compared to some

of the trails in Eureka Springs” Boone said.

“We do, of course, have in the plans some

trails for more advanced riders but we specifically

wanted the majority of these trails

to be accessible to the general public.”

This trail was specifically designed to

meet the specifications to host NICA mountain

bike association races. Kyla Templeton,

the director of the Arkansas NICA high

school mountain bike racing league, visited

the flag-marked trail this past week and

planning is beginning for the first race.

Sources have told the Carroll County

News that the project is being supported

through a grant from the Walton Foundation

although a news release from the Passion

Play did not confirm that.

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