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W.Va. Mountain Bike Trail Could Help Local Economy | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER – A world-class cycle route system in West Virginia could pay huge dividends in Winchester and Frederick County.

The Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Board agreed on Thursday to write a letter supporting the Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Councilto win a federal grant that would cover 80% of the cost of $ 3.5 million to complete construction of an approximately 35-mile mountain bike trail system in Cacapon Resort State Park near Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

“We are planning a notification [of acceptance or denial] in March, April or May, ”said David Deamer, implementation coordinator for the Planning and Development Council based in Martinsburg, West Virginia, of the competitive tourism grant from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Justin Kerns, Executive Director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Tourism Bureau, said it made sense for the local tourism board to support the project, as cyclists using the trail may need hotels. These are rare in Berkeley Springs, but can be found in abundance in Winchester and Frederick County.

“It’s right at the border [of northern Frederick County] and would bring us a lot of people, ”Kerns said. “This will absolutely help us. “

Winchester resident Mark Hoyle, who has been a major advocate for the development of the trail system since construction began in 2017, told the Winchester Star in August 2020: Riding bikes when they saw increased footfall cyclists.

So far, work on the trail has been funded by a series of grants and allocations from the local government in Morgan County, West Virginia.

If the federal EDA grant is approved, Deamer said it would take “a few years” to complete the implementation of the mountain bike trail and have it recognized by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) as a destination worthy course.

According to the IMBA website, the trails that it approves through its model trail program are referred to as trek centers or epics. The Cacapon course aspires to become a Ride Center.

“The Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s recognition of large-scale mountain biking facilities that offer something for every rider,” the website says. “From backcountry adventures to gravity trails serviced by shuttle buses, to experts only and families, you can ride for days and experience the best mountain biking has to offer.”

Currently, the closest Ride Center to Cacapon Resort State Park is approximately 160 km away in Harrisonburg.

Deamer said there was no precise estimate of the number of cyclists who would use an IMBA-designated trail in Cacapon State Park, but economic studies have shown similar routes in West Virginia and Alabama attract thousands of visitors a year.

The Cacapon trail would also be able to host MTB competitions of the timed competition type. enduro races, he said, which would attract even more visitors to the region.

“It would be an economic development stimulator for the whole region,” Deamer said.