Walton Family Foundation funds new mountain biking trail in Harrison, Ark.

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 10:18 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Harrison Exercise, Adventure, and Recreational Trails (HEART) committee has received a $108,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to build a mountain biking trail in the Boone County, Ark. town.

The nearly three-mile-long trial will be located on the North Arkansas College (NAC) campus. It will be certified by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and capable of hosting cycling competitions.

“I would’ve loved this growing up, coming from this community,” said Chris Rost, president of HEART. “We love football, we love basketball, but for somebody like me, having mountain biking would’ve been huge.”

Chris Rost is a Harrison native and says he has seen the mountain biking community flourish during his 20-year career as an avid cyclist.

“Another way to be part of the outdoors for our area and just be healthy,” he said. “So, really excited to see the kids have this other avenue of sports for the community.”

HEART, which is a committee organized by Mayor Jerry Jackson, says he’s been in the process of working with the Walton Family Foundation for over three years on the project.

“Three of us from Harrison went to Bentonville, spent two days with the Walton group about biking trails,” said Jackson. “Some even rode with the Waltons and experienced their trails. We were a little ahead of schedule but knew Harrison was going to be the right place someday.”

Jagged Axe Trails are designing the trail out of Eureka Springs, which has developed several across north Arkansas. Officials are hopeful the trail in Harrison will help draw crowds to the area.

“Hey, you can come to a community college, you can have that college experience, and while you’re here, there’s a lot of things you can do,” said Dr. Rick Massengale, president at NAC. “It also provides Harrison and the surrounding areas with economic opportunities. They eat at our restaurants, buy our gas, and hopefully see that community college life and the Harrison area is not community college life of old.”

As the recreational sport has continued to gain popularity, several school districts, like Eureka Springs, have started forming competitive mountain biking teams. According to Rost, Harrison anticipates a team will be developed in 2023.

While upfront costs for mountain biking equipment can be expensive, the city of Harrison is working on a program with possible rental services that will allow all community members to use the trial.

“Low-income families will be able to utilize these trails, and we’re going to make mountain bikes available to them one way or another,” said Jackson.

City officials say 17 additional acres have already been purchased for future trails to be built. Construction on the NAC trail is set to begin this fall.

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