Mountwood Park dedicates bike trail

Photo by Jess Mancini The new Pumphouse Trail at Mountwood Park was dedicated Thursday morning. From left: Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Parkersburg-Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau; John Hyde, maintenance superintendent for Mountwood Park; Jeremy Cross, superintendent of the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission; Chris Swarr, vice president of the parks commission and a member of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association; county Commission President Blair Couch; Chris McFee of McFee Foods Corp.; and Mike Brown, a regional sales representative for McFee Foods and a member of the Mountain Bike Association.

PARKERSBURG — A new mountain bike trail was dedicated Thursday morning at Mountwood Park where officials hope it will complement the existing world-class paths.

The Pumphouse Trail is about a mile long and is described by Chris Swarr, a member of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association, as like riding a roller coaster.

“A dirt roller coaster,’ he said.

The Pumphouse Trail joins history with recreation, said Jeremy Cross, superintendent of the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission, which manages county parks. The trail goes to the pumphouse that ran the 19th century endless cable system for the Volcano oil and gas fields and connects with the 35 miles of trails at the park.

“It’s part of the overall system,” Cross said.

Photo by Jess Mancini Chris Swarr of the River Valley Mountain Bike Association and vice president of the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission maneuvers the new Pumphouse Trail dedicated Thursday morning at Mountwood Park. The new trail was financed through a $20,000 grant from McKee Foods Corp., makers of Little Debbie snacks.

Called a “flow trail” in the vernacular of mountain biking, the Pumphouse Trail is an intermediate-level mountain bike trail. It can be used for hikers, too, as can all the mountain bike trails at Mountwood Park, Cross said.

Flow trails are the rage across the country, said Mark Lewis, president and CEO of the Parkersburg-Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The trails draw mountain bikers from across North America, according to Lewis.

It’s not unusual to see out-of-state plates, he said.

“We’re excited because this is a national mountain bikers destination,” Lewis said.

Planning for the trail began about a year ago and its creation is attributable to the $20,000 grant the park received from the McKee Foods Corp. Outdoor Happiness program. McKee Foods of Collegedale, Tenn., is the creator of the Little Debbie snack cakes.

“I run across people from all around the country here,” said Mike Brown, a district sales agent for McKee and an avid mountain biker also affiliated with the River Valley Mountain Bike Association.

Brown, working with Swarr, about a year ago got the wheel turning on obtaining the McKee grant.

“I knew this would get great use in this park,” he said.

Outdoor Happiness is a five-year program with the goal of providing $20,000 to trail systems in all 50 states, said Chris McKee, executive vice president of McKee Foods. The program is in its fifth year, he said.

“We’re only short about five states,” said McKee.

McKee’s grandfather, O.D. McKee, created the company in 1934. Debbie McKee Fowler, McKee’s cousin, is Little Debbie and works for the company.

McKee also is an avid mountain biker, but didn’t have time to ride the Mountwood Park trails on Thursday.

“I’ll be back,” he said.

That’s fine with Wood County Commission President Blair Couch, who said the commission was appreciative of the grant and support from McKee Foods. The goal is to bring more people to the park and the county, he said.

“Hopefully this will attract even more users here,” Couch said.

Hours for the Pumphouse Trail and other trails coincide with the hours that the park is open, Cross said. The park is open from daylight to dark every day.

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