Through a $519,000 grant provided by the Walton Family Foundation, the Arkansas Parks & Recreation Foundation will open the first phase of the new Monument Trail on July 27 at Mount Nebo State Park in Dardanelle..

In recent data collected through Google trends, bicycle industry statistics has recognized the public’s increased drive toward the hobby of mountain biking.

More than 130,000,000 bikes are produced annually, mountain bike sales representing 24 percent of total U.S. sales, totalling around $1,454,000,000.

Since its peak in 2001, according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the activity has remained steady with nearly 40 million annual participants in the U.S.

In regards to mountain bike traveling, hobbyists go an average distance of 566 miles from their home to ride, 62 percent desiring new trails, 22 percent wanting to see new places and 2.6 percent wanting to experience new styles of riding.

For Arkansas riders, that traveling distance will significantly decrease with the new investment for cycling in the Arkansas Rivery Valley, providing “world-class riding option[s]” to residents in Russellville, Conway, Little Rock and the Quachita and Ozark Mountains.

“It is expected to provide a national and even international draw for riders wanting to travel to top mountain biking venues,” park officials said in a news release.

The grant received will be used to construct the first phase of the trail and include special features, signage and bike amenities to “complement the world-class riding.”

“The new Mount Nebo trails will be approachable for riders from around Arkansas and beyond, but the first phase features big, beautiful berms and optional advanced gaps and jumps,” Amber Chambers, the trail project manager for the Arkansas Parks & Recreation Foundation, said. “We encourage riders to ride well within their skillset. It’s important to check out a feature before attempting it.”

Chambers said Rock Solid Trail Contracting will work on that first part, with input from Arkansas State Parks.

Park Superintendent Scott Waniewski said the new trail would open up “never-before-accessible” portions of the park.

“These (seven) miles of new trail will allow our visitors to see some beautiful parts of the park that were never before accessible,” Waniewski said. “Cyclists are encouraged to park at the Bench Trail Overlook, just below the top of the mountain on Highway 155, to access the trails. The [four]-mile Bench Trail continues to offer novice riders an easy green trail option around the mountain, which has its own beautiful views of the mountain.”

The opening of the Monument Trail at Mount Nebo, park officials said, is another way to “engage Arkansans with the unique offerings of the state park.”

Mount Nebo currently offers biking, hiking, camping, rentable cabin spaces, tennis courts, a pool, a small museum, and hang gliding for experienced flyers.

“Mount Nebo State Park offers opportunity to anyone because there’s such great variety of activities,” Grady Spann, director of Arkansas State Parks, said. “When it comes to riding the new Monument Trail, there is not a better 7-mile stretch of trail in this state, and I believe it will be easy for cyclists and families to make a weekend out of their visit.”

The second phase of the Monument Trail – which will feature a greater variety of terrain, bringing green, blue and black options to riders who choose to experience Mount Nebo – was recently approved to be built, construction is expected to bring 17 more miles of trail.