Work is finally beginning on a trail system 20 years in the making. Cincinnati, the Parks Department, and the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance (CORA) break ground Tuesday on a Mt. Airy Bike Trail.
"When [CORA] was established 20-plus years ago, one of the major goals was to find a way to get trails in Mt. Airy Forest that were accessible for cyclists," says CORA President Doug McClintock. "That's been a major challenge mostly because proof of concept has to happen in other places sometimes before large municipalities get on board."
"We have planned somewhere between 4-5 miles flagged out right now, probably to be done in three phases over the next year and a half," McClintock says. "We are hoping - if the weather cooperates, this is always challenging with trail building - to at least have the first mile or mile-and-a-half open by this fall."
McClintock says the trail will be similar to what CORA built at Devou Park.The trail is privately funded through fundraising and donations, and will be constructed by CORA volunteers.
This is the first legal, bike-accessible, natural surface trail in the city of Cincinnati's park system, McClintock says.
Mt. Airy Forest was created in the 1930s as a reforestation effort by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The bike trails will wind through a section of the forest along I-74 that includes ruins from former CCC buildings.
"They have a really beautiful section of wall and ruins, so there will be some interpretive signage in that area so people can actually understand what they're seeing and the importance of where this trail actually is."
The trail will include two trailheads, according to McClintock. The north trailhead will be at the corner of Shepherd Creek and West Fork roads on the Shepherd Creek side. The south trailhead will be on West Fork Road just across the bridge from Putz's Whip.
Maps from Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance show where the trails will be located within Cincinnati's Mt. Airy Forest. Courtesy of Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance