By COLIN KYLER
Organizers of a proposed mountain biking/hiking trail system have introduced their project to the public.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Frank Maguire of the International Mountain Bicycling Association shows where planned trails would be located.
On Sunday, planners guided interested groups through a portion of the proposed trail at the Jakes Rocks overlook area. International Mountain Bicycling Association Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Frank Maguire said Allegheny National Forest officials are performing environmental reviews of the project.
After that, Maguire said, organizers will have to raise funds. The project will cost around $2 million, he said, and construction should start in the spring of 2013.
Ines Nelson of Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways said before she moved to the area she spent time touring Kinzua Dam. There was no connectivity, she said, as visitors had to travel by car between the dam, Jakes Rocks and the Rimrock Overlook.
According to Nelson, stakeholders have already taken part in 200 meetings over a three-year period. The trails are part of a larger Southern Allegheny Reservoir Enhancement Project, which would also bring environmentally friendly lodging between Kinzua Beach and the Rimrock Overlook.
The system would consist of 43 miles of trails, Maguire said, which are currently flagged with pink ribbons. They will be color coded by increasing difficulty, he said, from green to blue to black.
The width will be 48 inches on the green trails, Maguire said, and decrease to between 18 inches to 24 inches on the blue and black ones. Trail materials will not be imported, but there is currently 6 inches of organic material in the area which would need to be cleared down to the soil.
"That will create a firm base," Maguire said. "Water will never sit on it long enough to permeate."
In addition to biking and hiking, Maguire said the green and blue trails would provide an opportunity for cross-country skiing. However, he noted the black trails would likely be too difficult for that activity.
Throughout the process, Maguire said the Forest Service has been helpful. To get the project done, he said it would be an accomplishment for them.
At the local level, Maguire said around $80,000 has been raised so far. He noted this puts it past the dream phase.
While the cost may seem high, Maguire said it compares favorably to creating paved roads. For just one mile of paved road, he said it can require between $400,000 and $1 million.
At Raystown Lake, Maguire said a similar trail system attracts 24,000 visitors each year. Recently, he said another hotel opened in that area.