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This week The Dallas Morning News published an opinion editorial I wrote on behalf of The Loop Dallas about an exciting, one-of-a-kind amenity coming to The Loop. I thought you might enjoy learning more.

 What if I told you that Dallas, of Blackland Prairie fame, could be home to a world-class mountain bike trail system in the city’s urban core? Last week, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved the new 50-acre Creekside Park a mile from White Rock Lake, and four miles from downtown, just below Tenison Glen Golf Course. Crews are on site already to prepare for construction starting this week. The council’s approval of the project adds a major amenity competitive with projects of our suburban neighbors. 

Leading trail builders often pursue projects on hundreds of acres in places like Colorado, Wyoming, or Arkansas. This trail, within 10 miles of more than 600,000 people —a diverse community where many have no access to natural surface trails— is a game-changer. Because of Creekside Park’s proximity to White Rock Lake, and because The Loop Dallas’ Trinity Forest Spine Trail will run through it, more people will be within 10 miles of this mountain bike trail system than live in the entire state of Wyoming.

Jacob Nilz, president of Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA), goes down a double black diamond mountain bike trail in the Big Cedar Wilderness on Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Dallas. The city is about to add more biking trails at Creekside Park near White Rock Lake.(Juan Figueroa / The Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer)

The Loop Dallas board traveled to Bentonville, Ark., last year to learn from the Walton Family Foundation, which has supported more than 260 miles of paved and singletrack trails in northwest Arkansas. The foundation has been engaged in building lots of trails very close to population centers. The idea is to have trails that people can easily access before work, after work, or even in the middle of the workday. Their advice was to put a heavy focus on children and entry-level mountain-bike riders, so people living near the trail can learn to enjoy it. Most of the trails at Creekside Park will do just that, making the sport accessible to a new and broad audience.

The Loop Dallas has retained the award-winning firm Singletrack Trails, based in Grand Junction, Colorado, to design and build the trail network with national best practices in features and sustainability. It will connect to one of the largest soft surface trail networks in the country, right here in Dallas, operated and maintained by Dallas Off-Road Biking Association (DORBA). All DORBA trails are maintained by its volunteer corps of mountain bike enthusiasts. Singletrack Trails’ design and construction will make the volunteer work last longer and be easier to repair when damaged over time through use.

In 2021, 8.69 million Americans 6 and older participated in mountain/non-paved surface biking, according to Statista. The segment is mostly white and male, but projects like Creekside Park can expand the audience by introducing the sport to a more diverse population.

This will be the first natural surface trail built in the city of Dallas in decades. It will give residents the opportunity to experience nature without having to leave the city and allow Dallas to compete with suburbs like McKinney and Frisco, which are investing in mountain bike parks and trails residents want.

 We continue to see great support for Dallas trails from City Hall, under the leadership of Mayor Eric Johnson, Director of the Park and Recreation Department, John Jenkins and Park Board Chair, Arun Agarwal. The Loop Dallas has already secured funding for the project, and with this master agreement DORBA’s corps of volunteers will manage trail maintenance. It’s a win-win-win.

We should all be encouraged by the city’s leadership on Dallas trails.