Wheels Roll On Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park Plan
fundraising is next step after approval from E.C. County
Local biking-focused organizations and community members have banded together in order to bring a bike skills park to Lowes Creek County Park, a transformative project that also fits into the Eau Claire County Parks Master Plan [PDF].
Having spent the better part of a year moving full-steam ahead on producing design plans and working out the approximate cost of the roughly 4.5-acre redevelopment project – estimated to be about $355,000 – members from CORBA, Eau Claire Youth Cycling, 906 Adventure Team, and interested locals are now working on making the Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park a reality after receiving the OK from Eau Claire County to move ahead with the project.
Nathan McCorkle, a member of CORBA – a local group that creates and maintains trails – said the team is closing in on finalizing project paperwork with the county and has been working with the county forester to evaluate the trees and wildlife at the site, ensuring best practices with construction. The team has also already been in talks with builders and hopes to get part of the project complete yet this year.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces to that, but we’re hoping to get that beginning part of the project – the beginner skills area – done before the ground freezes up,” McCorkle said.
A bike skills park is vastly different than a regular bike trail or even a group of trails for a plethora of reasons, including the purposeful creation of features that offer increased safety and varying levels of challenge. The skills park promises to be a unique feature that will further diversify Eau Claire as a destination for visitors by catering to one of the fastest-growing sports in Wisconsin – youth cycling.
Regional cities like Marquette, Michigan, and Crosby, Minnesota, have seen significant economic growth and tourism revenue alongside an increase in quality of life since investing in similar projects.
McCorkle explained the two parts of the Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park as aimed at two separate skill levels: a beginners area that will be about 1 acre and geared towards young kids or adult beginners, while the other will be about 4.5 acres and be fit for intermediate and skilled riders.
The Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park plans to offer a variety of skills features, including a boardwalk loop, S-ladder feature, jump lines, zig-zag feature, a wood bridge, and more.
“We think this is going to be a great thing for rider development but also serve as a way to show off the trails Eau Claire has,” McCorkle said. As noted on the Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park website, there has been a large increase in youth involvement with biking in the area, and Eau Claire is falling behind in its innovative biking-related offerings.
One of the area’s best parks, Pinehurst Park (3523 Delbert Road, Eau Claire), has been a hub for all kinds of recreation, open for year-round activities like ice skating and hockey, sledding, skiing, disc golf, and mountain biking, among other things. Besides its being located on the north side of town while the Lowes Creek Bike Skills Park will be on the far south side, a key difference is the Bike Skills Park being wholly focused on biking-related activity.
Lowes Creek was deemed the best area in Eau Claire County to build a bike skills park as it already is home to an array of trails, is fitted with parking and amenities, pavilions, and toilets, and is regularly used by local biking organizations.
As described in the Eau Claire County Parks Master Plan, the County’s mission for Lowes Creek Park outlines a want for the Bike Skills Park as well, its three listed goals being: 1) Define and improve trail recreation and associated amenities, 2) Diversify mountain biking trail recreation, 3) Promote forest health and prairie restoration.
Though McCorkle said the team hopes to complete at least the beginner skills portion of the plan, the organizers are shifting into fundraising mode, as the project has an approximate $355,000 price tag.
Learn more and donate to the project at lowescreekbikepark.org.