A Look Inside: Pinehurst Park Project
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Pinehurst Park is a local bike park and snow park destination for Chippewa Valley residents of all ages. A location that is unknown to many but provides a year-round spot for recreational activities.
“I think people are just surprised when they come out here for the first time. Just to see what it is, they might have heard whispers of it around town, then they come out here and they are like ‘wow, I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this place,” says Andy Wians, Pinehurst Project Board of Directors Secretary.
It might be the best kept secret in the Chippewa Valley. The vision for the Pinehurst Bike and Snow Park began nearly a decade ago when the city of Eau Claire gave Christian Peterson and OutdoorMore, Inc. the green light to transform Pinehurst into a year-round recreational park.
“Pinehurst has a past history back from the 30′s of being a ski hill. It’s gone through a lot of transitions and different parties. We saw the future of it, saw the terrain, and the terrain on the summer side, lends nicely to a long gravity bike trail. We’ve been able to make 8-9 new bike trails that are all gravity fed and it has a lot of draw from all over the area,” explains Peterson.
The project mission is to rebuilt, reconstruct, and reinvent the former ski hill located at Pinehurst to create a site where outdoor enthusiasts from across the Chippewa Valley can have fun and stay active in winter via tubing, alpine skiing and snowboarding.
“Everybody has their specialty. They come up with ideas, we harvest them, we bring them to life. You could walk around this park for hours and still not see everything that we’ve created.”
Construction and renovations for the bike and snow park started in 2013 and remain in progress to expand the park and make it even better. Thanks for the non-profit OutdoorMore, Inc. and the countless hours put in by volunteers including kids in the area, Pinehurst Park is on the brink of complete installation. OutdoorMore hopes to raise $40,000 to be fully operational as a ski area in the winter of 2022.
“We did a lot of tree cleaning, we cut cross country ski trails, we put up lights around the area, phase two now evolves to final installation of the lift which is going to be a paddle-tow lift, it’s going to be shared by skiers, snowboarders and tubers,” adds Wians.
“The more people start learning about this place and getting the opportunity to come out here. I can’t wait to see where the kids take this place when they’re my age. After we get our skatepark, the concrete skatepark in, the tow-rope installed, I guess the kids are the driver’s seat now,” says Skip Contardi, OutdoorMore, Inc. Vice-President.
The kids are definitely in the driver’s seat soaring through the spectacular Pinehurst woods on bike trails they helped carve out.
Nick Barry, owner of Stache Bike & Adventure takes to the trails every chance he gets.
“Riding Pinehurst, we got a lot of big jumps out here, you definitely want a little more travel so a lot of dudes run coil shocks in the back, more travel up front so this a 170 milli-travel bike so you definitely get some squish when you land off the road gap. You do want geometry is a big deal too so the more slacked off the bike is the more relaxed you feel when you’re riding downhill. Where a more traditional cross country bike you sit up over the bars a little more which makes downhill a little bit more challenging,” explains Barry.
The trails are definitely a challenge, yet offer something for everybody. For Eau Claire’s Rachel Jensen, it’s all about having confidence in your biking abilities.
“I say definitely be careful if you aren’t riding too much. And if you don’t have a full suspension bike, take it easy at first but once you gain confidence it’s pretty fun,” says Jensen.
As the partnership between the Eau Claire Parks Department and community members continues to grow, the Pinehurst family hopes to lure more people to the hidden gem on Eau Claire’s Northside.
“Our spread has gone out into the cities, to Duluth where people are driving from over there, some of our volunteers are from Stillwater, Minnesota. They come here weekly to ride and to help. The people who have gotten involved in this project has been critical. I can’t do this without Nick from ‘Stache, just the plethora of kids that have gotten involved. You can only imagine what it’s like out here when you have motivated kids doing something that they love. It’s pretty cool.”
If you would like to donate, please click here. Pinehurst Park Project
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