Why a Bike Park?
A bike park is a cohesive sports area (like a football field, but with trees remaining) that’s designed specifically for off-road or mountain biking.
They can be built in small urban areas, on public lands, or integrated with trail systems (like at Lowes Creek). A bike park may include skills courses, pump tracks, and features like small jumps, balance sections, rock beds, and more. All safe to ride with accessible beginner sections, and stepped up sections to take on as riders become more comfortable and capable.
As video games dominate playground talk and after school activities, the need for places that kids and adults will enjoy themselves and get active continue to rise. Bike parks are fun, challenging, and healthy places for people to get exercise. They can often support a wide age range, from toddlers on balance bikes to anyone at any age who still wants to ride.
As bike parks are built and maintained, riders tend to frequent the parks more regularly. Whole families adopt the park and make a day of the adventure.
Return On Investment
Compared to more traditional parks and playgrounds, bike parks offer an incredible value vs the budget spent on them.
Well-built facilities become tourist draws. They attract events which in turn leads to money spent locally on amenities, food, repairs, and new equipment.
What is a mountain bike park or skills area?
- An area of trails and constructed “technical trail features” (TTFs) designed to challenge mountain bikers and improve their skills.
- Fun, while still being challenging, for a wide range of ages and abilities.
- Might include wood features, rock gardens, dirt berms, jumps, pump track
- A place for users to socialize and practice the sport, like a golf driving range or neighborhood basketball court.
- Becoming more common at trail systems throughout country
Why is Lowes Creek is the ideal park?
- Most-frequented mtb trails in area
- Good access and parking
- Existing trails are appropriate for all abilities
- Used by Eau Claire Youth Cycling, Adventure Team, Chippewa Valley Composite youth programs
- Existing amenities in place (pay boxes, pavilions, toilets, camping)
- The selected site had previous plans for a skills park several years ago that were not fully pursued.
How is a skills area different from the bike trails already at Lowes?
- Focus on skills, practice, and play
- More condensed, allowing for sections to be re-ridden multiple times or tied together in multiple ways. Not point-to-point.
- Constructed features — rather than naturally occurring — allow for control over safety and challenge, lower maintenance
- Provides multiple levels of difficulty in one place, allowing families and groups to ride together.
- Close to trailhead and park amenities, becoming a focal point, gathering area, and meeting spot for users.
Why create a mountain bike skills area?
- Youth cycling is the fastest growing sport in Wisconsin (per Office of Outdoor Recreation).
- Wisconsin Interscholastic Cycling League has nearly 2,000 high school and middle school mountain bikers
- Youth bike programs bring 100-200 kids to Lowes each week in Summer.
- Adult ridership increases as kids join and options like e-bikes become popular
- Parks are offering more features, challenges, and “epic” experiences; and Eau Claire is falling behind
- Skills areas let riders learn skills in a controlled environment, so they can safely carry those skills into the wild
What are the core goals of this project?
- SAFETY: Features and landing areas can be designed to minimize risk; teaches proper techniques
- COMMUNITY: Creates a space for friends and family to gather, pass along knowledge, cheer each other on
- PUBLIC HEALTH: Gets more people outdoors and active, improving confidence, fitness, mental health
- FINANCIAL IMPACT: Increases park pass revenue, draws tourists, attracts talent
- VISIBILITY: Highly photogenic space helps build awareness of Eau Claire County’s amenities and attractions in traditional and social media
Want to learn more?
Watch this great video introduction to Bike Parks: