Making it awesome: Cherokee prepares to unveil 10-mile mountain biking system
Written by Holly Kays
When Ed Sutton first came to Cherokee in November to break ground on a new trail system, his directive was clear.
“We told him his marching orders were just make it great. Make it awesome,” said Jeremy Hyatt, Secretary of Administration for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
“You couldn’t give me a better mission statement than that,” said Sutton, a trail builder for Brevard-based Trail Dynamics.
Five months after construction began, the trail system is 90 percent complete. By the time it opens — likely in early May — the 154-acre property will boast 10 to 12 miles of trail with various segments catering to ability levels from beginner to advanced, all available via a trailhead at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, less than a mile from downtown Cherokee.
With more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain from the top of Mount Noble to the parking lot, the maze of trails weaving up and down the mountainside will offer plenty of challenge for more advanced riders, Sutton said, while tamer loops will let beginners give mountain biking a try without venturing far from home. Runners and hikers will also be welcome to explore the trails.
“I think we have a good entry-level beginner trail,” Sutton said. “I think we have what I would call a very rhythmic intermediate trail, and then we have a slope-style one-directional trail which will be mostly downhill and it will have jumps, big berms, lots of rollers.
On a chilly afternoon in March, Tinker Jenks was all smiles as she walked the dirt-packed switchbacks of one of the trail system’s completed sections. Currently a program……
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