Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 17

photo courtesy Jagged Axe Trail Designs

The 1.5-billion-year-old volcanic rock that comprises Shepherd Mountain will make for a challenging course for riders at the new bike park.
using the shuttle. Its volunteers put hundreds of hours
into helping with the project.
For their part, Jagged Axe found ways to turn the
mountain's natural features, including its 1.5 billionyear-old volcanic rock, into an amazing set of trails. For
example, a giant wooden " Corkscrew " built from local red
cedar takes riders on a breathtaking run from the top of a
sheer wall to the bottom.
Another feature on the black-diamond trail is an
almost vertical descent down another outcrop that goes
immediately into a series of big jumps off
granite boulders, culminating in a wooden
ramp called " The Cannon " that will launch riders
into the sky.
The relatively easier green and blue trails offer
banked turns, rock gardens, jumps off rocks and
other natural features.
But Jagged Axe's biggest contribution to the
park was introducing it to one of the principals
behind Big Mountain Enduro, a Colorado company that
hosts big-league enduro bike races. Big Mountain sent
representatives to Ironton, where they agreed to add
the park to its schedule even before the first trail was
complete. The race quickly sold out.
On May 2, Shepherd Mountain will host the first race
of the 2021 Big Mountain Enduro series. The event is
expected to bring 350 riders into Ironton, but counting
support staff, vendors and spectators, that number could
swell into the thousands. By bringing the race to Ironton
- its first outside the Rocky Mountains - Big Mountain
gave the park its seal of approval and effectively put it on
the map for the entire nation.
When it opens in April, the plan for Shepherd Mountain
will only be halfway completed. Work is underway on
funding Phase 2 of the project. This moves to 200 acres

on the west side of Shepherd Mountain Lake, where more
trails will be centered around a 50-unit campground.
" In Phase 2 we are going to focus more on cross country
trails, " Bob says. " When we get completed we think we will
have a family destination here. "
Trails will be extended into Ironton so that riders can
pedal into town for meals and after-ride libations. One
advantage for this park is its location on the doorstep
of an established tourism destination, with motels, fine
dining, shopping, a coffee roaster and historic sites such
as the Iron County Courthouse and Battle of Pilot
Knob State Historic Site.
Also in the works is a shuttle that will take nonriders to other area attractions such as Lesterville's
Black River canoeing liveries or the nearby
Johnson's Shut-ins, Elephant Rocks and Taum
Sauk state parks.
Ironton
" That's our goal, to regionalize tourism, " Bob
says. " All these communities have something to
offer. We want to provide links from ourselves
to these other communities. People are excited. The
community is behind it. One analogy I like to use, it's like
a baby eating a steak. It's going to be great if we don't
choke on it. "
While the wait for the park to open has had area
mountain bikers foaming at the mouth, Ironton's mayor
says he will be content watching his grandson hurtle down
the mountain. " I told these guys I will do everything I can
to help build this, " he says with a laugh. " But they will
never see me on it. "
You can learn more about Shepherd Mountain Bike
Park and area attractions at www.visitarcadiavalley.info/
mtbpark or on Facebook. The park is open to hikers and
cyclists every day and is free except for shuttle tickets.
APRIL 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

April21_Mountain Bike Park.indd 4

17

3/11/21 12:15 PM


http://www.visitarcadiavalley.info/mtbpark http://www.visitarcadiavalley.info/mtbpark http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2021

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 5
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 6
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 7
Rural Missouri - April 2021 - 8
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Rural Missouri - April 2021 - Cover3
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