by Chris Weiss
A new mountain biking trail currently underway in Minnesota won’t be the choice of hammerheads that live for the tightest, most technical singletrack in the forest, but it will provide new opportunities for handicapped cyclists. Set to be built later this year in Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove, MN, the trail is the state’s first purposely-built accessible mountain bike trail.
The accessible portion of the trail will be a one- to two-mile loop of a greater 12-mile trail. It will be 32 to 40 inches wide, rather than the 24 inches usually applied to mountain bike trails in the area. The widened trail is being designed for those that ride three-wheeled, hand-powered mountain bikes and builders envision disabled veterans being among the users of the trail.
In the Star Tribune article, local mountain biker and trail builder Tim Wegner is quoted as explaining: “I look around and see our veterans coming back with missing arms and legs, and these guys don’t want to be handicapped, they don’t want to stop doing things with their kids -- why not give them an opportunity?”
Courage Center, a local rehabilitation center, will be offering the bikes for use to its patrons and is looking forward to integrating the activity into its programs.
This sounds like an excellent idea and hopefully more municipalities and parks around the country will follow suit in crafting new trails that can accommodate all users. As much as I personally like the most narrow trails out there, I really like seeing opportunities like this.