Mankato Area Mountain Bikers Offer New Trail Opportunities

The Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB), the southern Minnesota affiliate of the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) were offered two opportunities by Blue Earth County for the development of new singletrack trails in the Mankato area last fall.  It is MAMB's vision to build sustainable, environmentally friendly trails that make the most of natural terrain features, so members jumped at the chance to develop two new trails.  With the help of members and volunteers, these new trails are ready to ride*.

Fort LeHillier Trail

View Ft. LeHillier Trail in a larger map

On the southwest corner of the intersection of Co. Rd. 90 and MN Hwy 66 lies a section of land along the Blue Earth River Bottoms, not far from the Mount Kato Ski Area, that contains the Fort LeHillier Trail.  This area was the sight of the old Fort LeHillier built in 1700.  The area has long served as a canoe/boat launch with a large gravel parking lot that makes the small trail system very accessible.

Image Credit:  Clay Haglund

I spoke with MAMB Board Member (also one of the founders), Clay Haglund via email and he told me, "The plot was only a few acres large and we have nearly maxed it out to get approximately a mile and a half of trail.  I have GPS'd 2.1 miles linking up all the options for one full lap which requires re-riding some of the main loop a few times.  The trails are beginner level with some intermediate features mostly on "B" lines.  You will find tight, flowing singletrack with berms, rollers and a few added features like skinnies and a rock garden.  There is only about 40' of elevation change so no sustained climbing.  We didn't know how long we would have to wait for further trail building opportunities so this trail tries to have a little something for everyone and provide an area to practice the kind of skills that are not being addressed by Mankato's other current mountain bike offerings."  For more photos of the trail building efforts of volunteers and members visit the Fort LeHillier Trail Building photo album on their Facebook page.

Below is a great video of the trail from Jeff Hokeness of Mankato.

Trailwork is done on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month at 6:00 pm and updates will be posted on the MAMB Facebook page.

Recent flooding has caused a closure of the Fort LeHillier Trail.  From the MAMB Facebook page, "Due to all the rain we have had recently causing the high river levels the trail is largely under water and severely damaged. Pictures will follow.  Please stay off the trail until it is dry. We will have updates regarding trail repairs."

Image Credit:  Clay Haglund

Rail Tie Trail

View Rail Tie Trail in a larger map

Image Credit:  MAMB
Not long after construction began on the Fort LeHillier Trail, Blue Earth County approached MAMB and offered them another opportunity to build a small beginner trail in the right of way that runs parallel to the paved Red Jacket Trail.  This short section of singletrack is about a mile long and is easily handled by the most novice of riders.  Visit their Facebook photo album Rail Tie Trail for more pictures of the trail building efforts.

Because of the quality and commitment of the work done by MAMB, local leaders and land managers are taking notice. In my correspondence with Clay, he also stated, "Local leaders in Mankato and Blue Earth county have been impressed enough by our work that we've recently been granted access to a much larger plot of land near the Kiwanis dog park at the junction of Hwy 14 & Hwy 169.  Survey and assessment of the land is underway with planned trail construction to begin late summer or fall.  This area is much larger than Fort LeHillier with a lot of potential for new trails along with a pump track and skills park.  Another project that has been in the works for several years in St. Peter before our club officially formed, is also in the final stages of approval which opens up another 400 acres of river bottom land that might support 10+ miles of trail...so stay tuned...we're just getting started!"

MAMB is a 501.C3 non-profit organization with currently free membership.  To join, "Like" them on Facebook or visit the MAMB website and get involved with rides or volunteering.  "In the future, as our trails expand, we hope to become a chapter of the IMBA which will entail members paying dues; of which a portion will go back into the club's account for trail building needs."

Stay up-to-date on MAMB news by reading the MAMBlog or subscribe via RSS.  For more information on the Mankato Area Mountain Bikers, send an email to join.mamb@gmail.com or call them at 507-327-7170.

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