Restoring the Wildcat
Many mountain bikers today have grown up enjoying access to trails purpose built for other outdoor recreational pursuits, largely hiking. But did you know that there is a purpose-built mountain bike trail, just 25 miles west of Little Rock in the Ouachita National Forest?
Built in 1993 by the USDA Forest Service, the Wildcat Mountain Mountain Bike Trail tracks 10 miles through virtual wilderness near Lake Sylvia. Seemingly lost in time, many local riders admit to riding Wildcat 20 years ago, but not since. Intrigued by the prospect of adding 10 miles of challenging trail in Central Arkansas, Joe Jacobs, co-owner of Arkansas Outside, challenged CATA to restore the Wildcat to its former glory and then some for active use by all outdoor trail enthusiasts, including hikers and trail runners.
After conducting two recent reconnaissance hikes, CATA’s Director of Stewardship, Basil Hicks, Jr., encouraged CATA’s members to tackle this ambitious project. Working in full cooperation with the USDA Forest Service’s Jessieville District, CATA’s Trail Love Crew launched its restoration effort on a cool, misty Saturday. Ten trail warriors, including two members of the Ouachita Mountain Hikers hiking club, dove into the effort with loppers, brushcutters, chainsaws, and a handheld GPS unit. In awe of Wildcat’s rocky outcroppings and gurgling mountain brooks, these trail stewards painstakingly followed the original mountain bike trail, removing fallen trees and saplings.
CATA invites anyone with an interest in restoring this trail to join our Trail Love efforts this spring. Plans call for a grand reopening guided bike ride, hike and cookout to honor our Ouachita National Forest partners - an event the whole family will enjoy!
To learn more, see this recent post on Wildcat trail work.
For more information, and to track our progress, follow the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance on Facebook.
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