Kurt Snyder, Newark Advocate Published 4:19 p.m. ET May 31, 2020
About 40 riders spent Saturday checking out the new and improved trails at Horns Hill Park in Newark. Newark Advocate
NEWARK – It is not quite just like riding a bike for Chad Kreager, but he has enjoyed returning to his roots.
Kreager and his 13-year-old son Hunter were among about 40 riders checking out the mountain bike trails at Horns Hill Park on Saturday. Organizers of the Horns Hill Park Improvement Fund have been working in earnest on repairing the four existing trails, opening two new ones and constructing three more for a total of nine when the project is over.
“I did a little bit when I was younger, but it was nothing extreme like this,” Kreager said. “These are really nice. It’s cool they are putting the money in these trails up here. We really appreciate it.”
Bob Bevard, a retired Newark City Schools teacher, Dave Huff and Brian Gonser were among those at the forefront of building the four trails in 2008. About three years ago, they got back to work on a plan to refurbish and expand that is coming to fruition this spring.
Riders from 4 to 70 years old celebrated an unofficial kickoff to summer Saturday. The four original trails are steeper and for experienced riders, and a new trail in the back is for those just picking up the sport like Kreager and his son.
“It’s really nice they are putting in those new trails back there because we’re beginners, and those are perfect for us,” Kreager said. “These are real technical down here, and we like watching them. Those back there are right at our level now. We are just getting into it.”
Roger Morgan has joined Bevard in spearheading the project, building grant proposals for the City of Newark and Licking County Foundation. Progress can be tracked on the group’s social media.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic shut down competitions this spring but provided plenty of time to work on the trails.
“(Huff) is a professional trail builder, and because this is where he cut his teeth, he came back up from Kentucky and will work for a week or so at a time,” Bevard said. “Roger is right there with me. He is super involved and contributes a lot of resources.
“The great thing about mountain biking is you can stay six feet apart and the wind’s blowing, and you are able to ride and have fun,” Bevard added. “It hasn’t slowed down my riding at all.”
Cameron Reagan, a Granville graduate now living in Columbus, was fixing a jump between runs Saturday. He is proud to see what has been done, and the best is yet to come for his hometown course.
“It’s grew and grew each month. Now, that they have been working with the city and got a little extra money, we have been able to start a whole new phase,” said Reagan, a professional rider who will compete in Knoxville, Tennessee, next weekend.
“These four are more intermediate and expert. You could call it gravity-style riding,” Reagan added. “That’s a specific type of rider with experience hence the full face helmets. Some of the other stuff is more climbs, mellow, smooth, so we are trying to do something for everybody to have all skill levels.”
Local enthusiasts were out on the trails Saturday, but Bevard said he expects word to travel fast as construction continues.
Columbus resident Koji Sato said the downhill trails are one of kind in central Ohio.
“I heard about this place recently and I thought I would try it. Yeah, I like it,” said Sato, who regularly rides at Chestnut Ridge in Canal Winchester.
Sato did not use it Saturday, but he also recommends the shuttle service, which is a pick-up truck pulling a wagon with room for about a dozen bikes, back up to the top of Horns Hill.
“Without the shuttle, that’s pretty painful,” he laughed.
It literally is a diamond in the rough in the forest at the corner of Waterworks and Horns Hill roads, but it might not be for long.
“By the time we are done, it will by far be the gem of the state as far as mountain biking goes, and it will draw people from surrounding states,” Bevard said. “It will be that good.”