Mountain bikers want trail in future Warner Parks addition

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 7:11pm

A group of local mountain bike enthusiasts are hoping an eventual addition to the Warner Parks system will accommodate their hobby.

After Thursday, the group’s members might have a better idea if their hopes can become a reality.

The Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Southern Off-Road Mountain Bike Association (SORBA) wants the future Burch Reserve to offer a mountain bike trail component. Members plan to attend a community input meeting to take place Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Warner Parks Nature Center at 6:30 p.m. During the meeting, the first in a series, Nashville-based project master planner Hodgson & Douglas will be present to provide details and take public input.

“Mountain biking was documented by the Metro Planning Organization as a one of the most underserved communities in Metro Nashville,” said Carolyn Heichel, outgoing president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of SORBA and the group’s current membership chair.

Heichel noted that the Metro Parks and Recreation Department currently offers only one park — Hamilton Creek — with mountain biking options. That park is located in the southeastern portion of Davidson County on TVA property that Metro leases. Warner Parks, located in the county’s western segment, would benefit from a mountain bike trail, she said.

“Many land managers fear that mountain bikes will damage terrain and create erosion,” Heichel said. “Multiple studies have been done to study the impact of different user groups (hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, ATVs, etc.) Of all the user groups, mountain biking was found to have the least negative impact to the vegetation, soil, water and wildlife and differed little from hiking in its contribution to soil impacts. In addition to its low environmental impact, mountain bike trails are traditionally designed, built and maintained by volunteer labor and grants through SORBA/IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association).”

Heichel said SORBA’s vision for the newly acquired Burch Reserve property — a public use date for which has not been announced — would be an 8- to 10-mile mountain bike perimeter trail avoiding the old-growth areas of the land.

Bob Parrish, Metro Parks Department superintendent of natural resources, said the department is receptive to the mountain biking option.

“Our park board has a written agreement with SORBA on how we work together,” Parrish said. “We acknowledge the contributions SORBA makes. We are conducting meetings with SORBA representatives and are working on some strategic planning to have mountain bike trails geographically placed within the county.”

Whether a trail is placed in Burch Reserve — land that is part of the North Reserve Properties located on the north side of Highway 100 near the T-intersection with Old Hickory Boulevard — is another matter.

Friends of Warner Parks, a nonprofit that oversaw the acquisition of the land, is expected to have some say in the issue.

“We are very open to a lot of things happening within Warner Parks,” said Eleanor Willis, FofWP executive director. “We’ve very open to meeting people’s needs and wants.

“Our plan is to hear what everybody has to say on Thursday,” Willis added. “We won’t be promising anything at that point and won’t be making any definitive statements. We just want to digest it all.”

Heichel noted the new Metro parks greenway and bike path that will extend from the existing Richland Creek Greenway to Percy Warner Park as a factor in the consideration of a mountain bike trail.

“This will provide safe bike access to the parks from several surrounding areas,” she said of the greenway and bike path extension. “I can't think of a better addition to this park system than a mountain bike trail that can be safely reached by a greenway.”  

8 Comments on this post:

By: caluttc on 1/26/11 at 11:18

While I respect those who ride mountian bikes, they do not have a place at Percy Warner----they are MOUNTIAN BIKES.I use PW to condition myself each year for my hike into the Grand Canyon. Occassionally bikers violate the trail rules and prove to me that hikers and bikers each have their place yet not together..

By: Johnsotl on 1/26/11 at 12:05

What better place for mountain bikes to be ridden than the closest thing to mountains we have in middle TN?? The obvious current solution, assuming multiple use trails like much of the country does seems to not be an option, is for hikers to use the hiking trails in Edwin Warner, horses to use the horse trails and mtn bikes to use the red and white trails in PWP. Aside from that, providing and maintaining miles of trails for horses in the park is absurd. Living close to the park I am in there hiking or road bike riding many days each week. I may see horses using the trails once or twice a year. Who do you think makes the call on that? I won't even go into the acres and acres of land, water and pollution involved with the golf course...

If all else fails, mountain bike trails should indeed be created and provided in the new soon to opened section of the park.

By: sundown223 on 1/26/11 at 3:10

"Mountain bikes" is a general term describing "trail bikes". Certainly there is enough room in Percy Warner to allow for additional trail for bikes. The "mountain bike" community in Middle TN is usually very courteous to hikers on trails that are designated for Mountain bike use. No user group is perfect. If there are bikes being ridden on hiking only trails, then that is truly a shame, But, with a designated biking trail, there wouldn't be that temptation.

By: TITAN1 on 1/26/11 at 3:18

Johnsot! I have played on that golf course, I see no problem with it.

By: tomba1 on 1/27/11 at 11:31

didn't see the mountain bikers lining up to kick in major cash to help purchase that new park land so why should they be the first in line to want to harm it?? Build it and they will come, so don't build it! If they want to ride bikes on a mountain, great; go find a mountain and leave these parks and hills alone and natural

Or better yet, get your buddy the mayor to build you a mountain at the Fairgrounds. He complains so much about the hilly terrain, this would be a natural tie in with his new park there. That would be the most convenient location for the most people, would be easily accessible for our urban population, and would not interfere with the racetrack at all..

What's next? motocross, of course. perhaps on the steeplechase infield, or also at the Fairgrounds, or downtown by the river or, best of all, in Williamson county.

By: kindacreeky on 1/27/11 at 1:45

Mountain bikes deserve a trail in Warner Parks. There is now nearly 3000 acres of land in both parks, more than enough for all user groups. Mountain bikes are quiet and are people powered. The sport is fun and exciting, yet requires a reasonable fitness level. Nashville needs outdoor exercise oriented opportunities for its youth, to lure them away from a life on the couch.

A new trail should be considered on the 140 wooded acres on the north side of the RR tracks in areas not designated natural area. Also, new trail could be built in portions of the existing park that do no contain trails. Mountain bikers need many miles of trails since average ride could be 15 miles or more.

For many mtn bike riders, the sport is their routine fitness workout. It would be so great to be able to a challenging ride close to our home, without traveling out of county.

I believe that Parks should consider shared use of the horse trails with mountain bikers, on alternate days. Odd days horses, even days bikes.

By: Chewieez on 1/28/11 at 8:59

tomba1: QUOTE: "didn't see the mountain bikers lining up to kick in major cash to help purchase that new park land so why should they be the first in line to want to harm it??"

You would be surprised how many people who donated money to Friends of Warner Parks are indeed cyclists, and mountain bikers. I think it is quite naive of you to think that our user group did not donate.

One comment that was made last night at the meeting (by a non-cyclist) that really hit home to me was: Every resident in Davidson County owns part of Warner Parks. If there is a user group made up of Davidson County residents (like myself) that is not being served by the park, then the County is failing. I believe Warner Parks and Metro Parks realized this in a BIG way last night when they saw how many people came out in support of mountain biking somewhere in the Warner Park system.

For a city the size of Nashville, roughly 1 million strong, there is only 1 park in Davidson County that allows mountain biking, just one. There are countless hiking trails, running trails, greenways, golf courses, disc golf courses, football, baseball, and soccer fields. These all cater to different user groups. The mountain bike user group is grossly underserved.

-Greg Lawrence

By: karld909 on 3/7/11 at 8:50

Mountain bikers are absolutely not under served. They are served as we all are;no more, no less. By their perverse logic only their mechanized transport should be allowed in the parks. Why not dirt bikes? Where do you draw the the line?Why not ATV's? You are not banned from the parks; only the bikes are banned as are many other things. Find another logic. That one won't hunt.