OAKWOOD — The addition of another mountain bike trail at Kickapoo State Park and more miles of trails planned in the next couple years, means even more impacts on local tourism.
“It’s truly going to be a destination for the midwest,” said Steve Fox, president of the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club.
Just a few years ago there were 10 miles of mountain bike trails at the state park. Volunteers recently completed Trail 10, a five-mile loop; and added with all sections of the other trails, there are now about 25 miles of bike trails.
Fox said volunteers will continue to build trails to reach more than 40 miles of trails. Once that occurs, people will stay over night in the area to ride all the trails. Bikers can ride 20-25 miles pretty comfortably in a day, he said.
“It really starts to effect the local economy,” he said about those staying overnight.
He said mountain bikers already travel from all over Indiana, Illinois and other neighboring states to the trails.
“It’s not unusual to see license plates from several states around the trails,” Fox said.
People riding the newest trail might not even think they are in Illinois.
“It’s more advanced; a lot more climbing and descending,” Fox said of Trail 10.
On Saturday, there’s a ride and also an appreciation dinner for club volunteers who worked on the trail.
“We didn’t plan to do it this year,” Fox said about building the new trail.
Fox said it was scheduled for next year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic canceling races, they went ahead with it this year.
“We decided to push forward, and IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) got the route approved,” he added.
The club also had people available to be machine operators.
“It’s unbelievable,” Fox said of the trail usage so far. “It’s about 3,000 users a month right now.”
The Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club is a non-profit volunteer organization that builds, maintains and advocates for mountain bike trails in Kickapoo Sate Park. It formed in 1993 after a demand for mountain bike trails at the park and a lack of state funding.
Park leaders have allowed volunteers to build and maintain trails on more than 1,000 acres of land in the state park.
The club has about 200 paid members, with about 100 of them having a hands-on part of making Trail 10.
Club members have already been riding and enjoying the newest trail.
Fox said they’re proud they haven’t used any taxpayer dollars to develop any of the trails.
For more information about the club, events and to donate, visit its Facebook page or website https://www.kickapoomountainbike.org.