Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2019 - 28

ON FOOT, ON THE BIKE

The
By ERIC J. WALLACE | Photos by JESS DADDIO

Thomas Jenkins has been
building trails around
Harrisonburg, Virginia for
25 years. His efforts have
helped transform the city into
a mecca of hiking and biking,
and opened up long-neglected
national forest trails.

28

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

I

f you've hiked or biked in Virginia's
central Shenandoah Valley, you've
probably experienced a Thomas
Jenkins trail. After co-founding the
Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) in 1996-which has
since become one of the East Coast's
largest and most active bike-related
clubs-the 49-year-old spearheaded trailmaking efforts throughout the region.
The results transformed Massanutten
Resort's Western Slope into a hike-andbike mecca, with about 40 miles (and
counting) of pro-grade, multiuse trails.
Partnering with the Forest Service, Jenkins helped secure more than $750,000
in grants and oversaw trail work in nowacclaimed hotspots like Reddish Knob
and Braley Pond Day Use Area. Meanwhile, he lobbied local officials to make
Harrisonburg more bike-friendly. The ef-

forts helped the city become the state's
first designated International Mountain
Biking Association Ride Center in 2011.
"Thomas has developed a kind of calling card," SVBC executive director Kyle
Lawrence told REI's Co-Op Journal last
year. "If you see a hand-built rock sidewalk, bridge, or stairwell winding through
a big bunch of boulders, you know it's his.
His build-style defines the area's trails."
But becoming a regional trail-guru
wasn't always the plan. Jenkins says, "It
just kinda happened."
Raised a mile from Great Falls National Park in Northern Virginia, he grew
up loving the outdoors. Though he rode
motocross as a teen, he didn't discover
mountain biking until attending Radford
University.
"And it bit hard," Jenkins says with
a laugh. "I went from know-nothing to


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Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2019

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