Running and beyond: Mountain biking and a history of the trails at Pets and UW-Parkside
Mountain bikes have evolved over the years, and so have the trails and terrain. I’m not sure what is more popular now, the fat-tire bikes or mountain bikes.
Yes, you can spend some real money on bikes that are made of lightweight high-tech materials and with all the latest accessories for the perfect trail beast.
In 2017, Kenosha County opened up mountain bike trails at Silver Lake County Park, in a partnership with Southeast Wisconsin Trail Alliance (SEWTA), to develop and maintain the single-track mountain back trails.
There are switchbacks, hills, banked turns, jumps and trees at every turn. I must say, I have never ridden on these trails, but I have run them a number of times over the years. And they are fun.
Please note that the trails are open to everyone, but walkers, runners and hikers are encouraged to stay off the single-track trails. There are approximately eight miles of single-track trails and 2.5 miles of multi-use trails.
In late 2018 SEWTA disbanded, and in 2019 the Kenosha Area Mountain Bike Association (KAMBA) was formed and has been maintaining the mountain bike trails ever since. On their Facebook page, they post whether the trails are open or closed based on the trail conditions.
Other mountain bike trails in the area are Bong State Recreation Area, Lake Geneva Zipline & Adventures and Alpine Valley in East Troy. For Silver Lake County Park, a permit is required to mountain bike as per the Kenosha County Ordinance. Contact the County Parks Department to apply for a permit. At Bong, you will need an annual pass, as they are not currently doing daily passes at this time. At Lake Geneva Zipline & Adventures, they feature a daily fee, or you can purchase an annual pass. Alpine Valley, meanwhile, charges a daily fee.
In May 2019, the county leased a portion of the UW-Parkside property along the Pike River between the campus and Petrifying Springs County Park. Prior to signing the lease, the county had plans to develop dedicated single-track mountain bike trails on this property and on existing trails within Petrifying Springs. Those that hike, walk, run or just enjoy nature know these trails well and realize all the current trails would be considered single-track trails. Based on a map that was recently released, the mountain bike trails will virtually take over all the single-track trails on the UWP property and a number of similar trails within Petrifying Springs.
The trails in both areas have a long history of being used by hikers, runners, walkers, cross country skiers and nature lovers.
In a Kenosha News article from 1941, Petrifying Springs was the site for the Hikers First Convention for clubs in southern Wisconsin and Illinois, and the article said over 175 attended. In the early 1960s, Carthage College started hosting its Cross Country Invitation at Petrifying Springs and in 1980 held the Collegiate Division-3 National Championship Meet. Carthage’s final meet there was in 1993.
Mike DeWitt — a former Tremper and UW-Parkside cross country runner who later coached at Parkside — remembers running on the trails at Pets and in 1969 as part of the first UWP cross country team to run on the trails along the Pike River on the Parkside campus, which the runners in part developed.
Through the 1970s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s, cross country skiing played a major role in winter activity, as the trails in Pets and on the UWP campus along the Pike River were groomed. In the early 1970s, UWP staged cross country ski races and had over 10 miles of trails, according to Ed Wallen, a life science professor at UWP at the time.
In 1994, sections of these single-track trails were dedicated as the Ann Marie Williams Nature Trails, after the long-time professor at Parkside who inspired many students over her years. The trails today are mostly used by families, walkers, runners and hikers, as they historically have been, and most recently by mountain bikers.
The county is in the process of looking for feedback from community groups and individuals that have used and enjoyed these trails over the years. The Parks Department would welcome all comments, as it’s proposing to re-purpose many of the existing longheld historical trails in Petrifying Springs and on the UWP Pike River Nature Trails.
Keep moving and stay active Kenosha! You are welcome to send me your questions and comments on this topic or others that pertain to Running and Beyond at email@example.com.