Mountain bike trail proposed in Stillwater; Oak Park Heights trail to be finished this summer

A one-mile double-track mountain bike trail is being proposed on unused city property in Stillwater. (Draft map courtesy of Hank Gray)
A one-mile double-track mountain bike trail is being proposed on unused city property in Stillwater. (Draft map courtesy of Hank Gray)

As construction continues on a mountain bike trail in Oak Park Heights, a one-mile, double-track trail is being proposed on a piece of unused city property in Stillwater.

Located at the east end of Shelton Drive, between Greeley Street and North Osgood Avenue, the nearly five-acre property in question was acquired by the city of Stillwater through tax forfeiture.

The nonprofit Stillwater Area Scholastic Cycling Advocates (SASCA), which supports the high school mountain bike team, is spearheading the proposed Stillwater trail, as well as the Oak Park Heights facility in Valley View Park.

SASCA is proposing to construct and maintain the Stillwater trail at no cost to the city.

“We do not have a budget for them , because we’re not asking for any money,” said Hank Gray, a representative of SASCA. “Any things like signage, perhaps a kiosk showing a map, would be provided for us by fundraising.”

A double-track mountain bike trail is essentially two parallel dirt trails, each 12-18 inches wide, with a four- to six-foot buffer between them, Gray said. Creating the trail wouldn’t require tree removal.

“For the most part the land will stay as it is,” Gray said.

Once the trail was finished, maintenance would consist primarily of trimming brush and grass along the trail, and it would be handled by SASCA volunteers.

This isn’t the first trail SASCA has pursued in Stillwater.

The organization had proposed a mountain-bike trail in Brown’s Creek Preserve, but the project fell through in 2015 after running up against DNR rules, and SASCA began looking for other locations.

Last May, the Oak Park Heights City Council approved construction of a roughly 2.5-mile, single-track trail in Valley View Park. SASCA volunteers began constructing the trail last fall and expect to complete it by July or August this year, Gray said. It will be a cross-country style trail.

The proposed Stillwater trail would be different.

“Here [in Stillwater] it would be more technical — tighter turns, you would be a little more intimate with trees and rocks,” Gray said.

The Stillwater property is well-suited to a technical track, according to Gray.

“It’s heavily forested, there’s a lot of hardwood in there, and it’s got nice typography,” he said. “It’s got a lot of balanced changes in elevation.”

At only a mile long, the trail would be a local amenity but wouldn’t be a regional draw for cyclists, Gray believes.

If approved, Gray said, the trail would be fairly easy to build and could likely be complete this year. But he’s not in a rush.

“If the city decided that it wanted to wait until next year, that’s fine,” he said. “SASCA is not putting pressure on the city.”

On Feb. 27 the Stillwater Parks Commission unanimously endorsed the trail as a concept. But the project still has several steps before potential approval from the city council.

“The parks commission would like to see more information on it,” said Tim Moore, Stillwater’s public works superintendent. “[SASCA] will produce a plan so staff can review it.”

Moore said the city will also schedule a public meeting to let community members give input.

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]