Story by Jon Dinan
The Renegades Mountain Bike Club in association with Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Department added an additional six miles of mountain bike trails to Walnut Mountain Park over the past spring and summer.
“I had been riding Walnut Mountain for 10 years before it started falling into direpair.” said club founder Douglas Nikkila.
“I always liked the place and I heard the town wanted to upgrade so I got in touch with Brian Scardefield [Liberty’s Director of Parks and Recreation],” Nikkila added.
Once Scardefield gave the go ahead, Nikkila and his volunteer team got to work building six miles of trail over over five hundred hours.
The Renegades worked on the Walnut Mountain Park upgrade last spring. The labor involved extensive amounts of walking and surveying the land to see what was best for cycling, then digging out certain areas to install segments of track. The focus was on providing trails that could be used by all levels of cyclists.
“One of the drawbacks is that the Walnut Mountain trails were straight up and down so it was only used by highly experienced cylclists,” said Nikkila. “Now most people can get up to the summit without breaking a sweat. It’s a very pleasant experience, ideal for families.”
Nikkila formed the Renegades Mountain Bike Club out in Ulster County just over three years ago because he saw a need for improvement in the area’s cycling facilities.
“The Hudson Valley has a lot of trails but they were poorly maintained and no one builds on them so we figured we’d start,” said Nikkila.
In Nikkila’s organization, any volunteer who works more than 25 hours with the club is eligible to become a member.
“When working with volunteers everyone is on the same page,” said Nikkila. “There is a feeling of camaraderie when everyone is working shoulder to shoulder toward the same goal and getting things done.”
Walnut Mountain Park in Liberty covers a total of 265 acres on the top of Walnut Mountain. At 2,157 feet above sea level, the park is the highest point in the Town of Liberty, and the second highest point in Sullivan County.
Walnut Mountain Park is closed from October 1 to April 30. For more information on the trails, call Douglas Nikkila 626-7230 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.