A Tale of Two Trails in Dayton
No. This is no fairy tale. This is for real. There are two, count them, two, mountain bike trails in the Dayton area. Both are equally fun but very different. And, they happen to be located about 30 minutes from each other so it's easy to do both trail systems in one day.
The first trail system lies outside of Yellow Springs, Ohio, at John Bryan State Park. It took five years of volunteer time to build the nine miles of multi-purpose trail on the gentle terrain in the woods where there had previously been no trails. You can find hikers and walkers early in the mornings and the occasional trail runner in the evenings, but mostly it's about mountain biking.
The John Bryan trail system now hosts off-road time trials, XC races and an annual 6-hour mountain bike event. It's a great trail for beginners and a fun trail for advanced riders who like fast, flowing trail interspersed with log piles, creek crossings and boardwalks. On weekends there are families with kids as young as five years old playing in the skills park and on the trails. You can also find riders on an assortment of comfort bikes, cross bikes, rigid bikes, singlespeeds and twenty-niners. I've got a ton of sweat equity over the years in cutting the rose vines and yanking out the honeysuckle to make John Bryan one of the nicest-kept trails in the State.
John Bryan sound too easy? We've got another trail just for you. It's specifically for mountain biking. Based on the success of John Bryan, Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton took the plunge and in one year built a stellar, IMBA-design based system of 8+ miles called the MetroParks Mountain Bike Area or MoMBA. It's located just north of Dayton at Huffman MetroPark.
Five Rivers Outdoors, the outdoor recreation department of Five Rivers MetroParks, headed up the project and even brought in the IMBA Trail Care Crew to teach us older trail builders and the community at large a few new tricks. Where John Bryan was designed and built by volunteers using simple hand tools, MoMBA was designed professionally and the tread was carefully sculpted by tractor blade and finished by hand using specifically designed trail tools, like rhinos. Volunteers contributed many hours to armor creek crossings and to build MoMBA's bridges and boardwalks that span numerous ravines and gullies. It all worked. MoMBA is a raging success with its undulating terrain, tight switchbacks, rocky ridges and an area that looks like astronauts should be walking on it.
So, which is my favorite? Both! I love John Bryan for its easy, fast and flowing feel and I love MoMBA for its "something out of the West" feel. And, yes, I have sweat equity in MoMBA out there in the big rocks of a couple of armored creek crossings.
Ever since I got involved in mountain biking at the ripe old age of 47, I've wanted to give back to the sport that I enjoy so much. So I've become a member of the National Mountain Bike Patrol, IMBA, the Friends of John Bryan State Park and work with the great group of folks that make up the Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association (MVMBA), a chapter of the Ohio Mountain Bike Association.
Fortunately, I'm retired and get to ride when I want to. But it's not all fun and games. This is a sport that demands investment from its riders so I've spent the past six years working with MVMBA to donate thousands of hours to building and maintaining trail. And now we have two great trail systems in the Dayton area. I would say the future is looking bright. —Karen Wells-Hamilton