In 2017, New Historic Thomas and Zach Adams, owner of Appalachian Dirt, were hard at work building a new beginner loop, polishing existing trails, and adding a sense of continuity to the system in Thomas City Park.
The conceptual work began in the winter of 2016 between New Historic Thomas and Appalachian Dirt. The idea was to add a new beginner trail to the system as well as redesign the flow of the whole system. “I’ve been wanting to do a beginner trail around here,” Adams said.
Tucker County is home to some of the East Coast’s premier mountain biking opportunities. But for those who are still learning the sport, a lot trails in the area are not the most welcoming. Popular areas like the Canaan Mountain Backcountry or the Camp 70 trail system are too hard for beginners.
“We are a well known destination for outdoor recreation including mountain biking and hiking,” Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jessica Waldo said. “Our mountain biking has been written up on areas like Plantation trail, which is a hard trail. What they are doing in Thomas is giving people an opportunity to learn how to mountain bike. It’s family friendly or for the first timer.”
“These trails will be the freshest, most modern trails around,” Adams said. “It’s something we need out here.” After New Historic Thomas secured a grant from the Oakland Foundation for $7,500, trail work commenced.
“The idea was to reclaim the inner system and build one continuous outer loop,” Adams said. This quickly blossomed into a “full park redesign.” The trails that reside within the outer loop needed some attention. Clearing out some of these interior trails makes it easier for users to crisscross the inner and outer loops.
AmeriCorps volunteer Natalia Dutt helped make this full park redesign an actuality. Working with New Historic Thomas, Dutt asked to be on the Thomas City Park project. “I specifically asked to work on the trail project, I hate being stuck in the office, so I kind of volunteered to work as hard as I did on the trail,” she laughingly recalled.
She previously worked for Civilian Conservation Corps where she also worked on trails. “I was more of the cleaner-upper, and I did more of the smaller jobs, as Zach was doing the excavating and doing the trails,” Dutt said.
Part of the work Adams and Dutt completed includes consolidating trail names. Using the trails could be confusing because there was not a continuous trail that gave the system a sense of clarity.
The outer loop, “Junior Davis Trail,” is now one continuous trail. “Dale’s Trail,” the inner loop, is the beginner trail. “Dale’s Trail” is still under construction. Adams hopes to complete the work by July.
When biking or hiking the trails at Thomas City Park, “You don’t ever have to repeat trail,” Adams said.
New Historic Thomas was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from PeopleForBikes that will go toward completing the beginner loop. The Mountain State Fat Bike Champs race, held on February 4, will fundraise for the trail system. The evening before at Stumptown Ales, every dollar of beer purchased will go toward trail construction.