Local mountain biking enthusiasts will have three new trails to choose from this spring at Graham Hills Park in Mount Pleasant to test their riding and jumping skills.
Westchester County, which owns the park, announced Wednesday that materials are being shipped to construct the trails near the lot on Route 117 across the street from Pace University. County officials worked with a committee of local riders and biking advocates to develop a course after an unauthorized set of jumps were discovered last spring on the other end of the park in a forested area about a five-minute walk through the woods from the Saw Mill Parkway intersection with Marble Avenue.
“The mountain bike community at Graham Hills is passionate about their sport,” said County Executive George Latimer. “When we learned they were interested in developing the skills area, we were happy to work with them to develop their ideas and move the project forward.”
The county Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation identified the location for the trails next to the existing trail and parking lot entrance. Personnel from the county parks worked with Jim Dellavalle Designs and the Graham Hills Skills Park Committee to design the trails using proper techniques.
Bob Dillon, a local biker and coach of the Pleasantville mountain bike team that competes in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, said the collaboration between the county and the committee provided considerable buy-in from the bikers.
“I haven’t heard any reservations from the cycling community that participated in the build of the other area,” Dillon said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things. Everyone just feels very positive that this is going to be as good or better and it’s in a safer location.”
The illicitly-constructed course discovered last year was built in an environmentally sensitive area of the park and presented a danger to riders. In a report to the county last summer, Dellavale stated that the trails crisscrossed and riders traveled at fast speeds. Lack of signage, which didn’t inform riders of the difficulty of the course, and encroachment into a wetland preservation area that is prone to runoff, posed additional problems, he said.
It is expected that the unauthorized trails will be dismantled.
Dillon said because the new trails will be professionally designed it should have greater longevity and require less maintenance.
Since the previous trail was used by many youngsters, Dillon also mentioned that crossing the Saw Mill Parkway posed a danger. The Route 117 parking lot will make the trails much more accessible, he said.
“We are so grateful to the county for giving a green light to this project, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Graham Hills Skill Park Committee member Jaymeson Leo said. “Moving forward it will be a valuable addition to the park and community.”
Volunteers from the Westchester Parks Foundation have placed much of the construction material at the new location. The material was donated by Thalle Industries, R. Pugni and Sons, Ad Tec and Mandy Santucci.
Construction will resume when the snow melts and the ground is firmer. The new trails are on track to open sometime this spring.