New mountain biking trail opens, offering ‘magnificent views’ outside the east side of Sion
Pitt Grewe, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, cuts a ribbon at a ceremony Wednesday, marking the opening of the first 10-mile segment of bikeways in Kane County, just outside from Zion National Park. (Utah Governor’s Economic Development Office)
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ORDERVILLE, Kane County – The first 10 kilometers of a new network of cycle paths near the eastern entrance to Zion National Park are now open, but many more kilometers remain to be covered.
A ceremonial ribbon was cut on Wednesday, by representatives of state and local entities, as well as the Sion national park Superintendent, to officially open the first leg of what will be more than 30 miles of cycle paths outside the park’s eastern entrance in Kane County. The event took place as part of the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit, which was held in Kanab this week. Participants celebrated the opening with a bike ride through the region.
The new cycle path is one of many features planned for the eastern entrance to the national park in the coming years to help combat overcrowding. It aims to distribute visitors to the less frequented parts of the park. The trail comes as National Park Service data shows more than 4 million visitors have already visited the park this year, through September, setting it to break its visit record of over 4.5 million set. in 2017.
Mountain biking, of course, is not allowed inside the park.
The land for the 10 mile mountain bike trails that opened on Wednesday was donated by two local families: the McLaws and Neeleman families; the latter is the owner of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, which is located in Kane County between the eastern limits of the park and the town of Orderville.
The trailhead is located about a quarter of a mile down North Fork Country Road, which is the last road before heading to the eastern entrance to Zion National Park on State Road 9 or the first exit, according to d ‘ where you come from. The trails are public, even if they cross private land due to land easements, according to Zachary Almaguer, spokesperson for the Project Sion Forever.
“While the trails negotiate and traverse the boundaries of the park and do not enter directly, they provide cyclists and visitors with some of the first (public access)… completely invisible,” he said.
The 10 Miles is just the first phase of a plan that provides approximately 34.5 miles of cycle paths on private and public land adjacent to the national park. The last 24.5 miles are expected to be built in the near future as they are already funded through grants and donations from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the National park foundation and various private donors, such as Cycles of Sion through the largest western entrance to Zion National Park in Springdale, Washington County.
The Office of Outdoor Recreation, a wing of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, provided a grant of $ 500,000 earlier this year to supplement the $ 2.1 million needed to fund the second phase of the cycle paths.
Another 40 miles of hiking trails are planned for the east as well. Some of the hiking trails, unlike the bike trails, will include access to Zion National Park, when completed.
Growing Eastern Zion
The East Zion master plan also includes a visitor center, housing estate and new accommodation options located outside the eastern entrance to the park.
Also on Wednesday, Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said funds had been secured for a new Zion East Visitor Center for the eastern entrance. Almaguer said the plan was to launch the project either by the end of the year or in early 2022.
The Visitor Center, when completed, will be managed by Zion National Park staff and will feature a park ranger and other educational programs, although it is located just outside the boundaries of the Park. The region will also offer agricultural learning opportunities, according to Almaguer.
The Utah Clean Cities Coalition also demonstrated his new EVZion pilot project for the first time on Wednesday. The electric shuttle program, which is officially scheduled to begin in a few weeks, will run between Kanab and Zion National Park. It’s a program that’s expected to reach other regional areas like Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks in the future as well, Almaguer said.
“For us, this is what makes East Zion so amazing. It has really been a real collaboration between the public and the private, but also federal, local, state and departmental agencies,” he said. “Now to have real traction on funding the building itself and on the first accessible recreation opportunities to give people a sense of belonging on the east side, rather than just ‘where do I go? “(location). We’re just excited to see this come to fruition.”