LAKE PLACID — A pair of mountain biking advocates came before the North Elba town board Tuesday night to pitch a plan to create a mountain bike trail network at the town-run Craig Wood Golf Course.
Jeff Erenstone and Matt McNamara said they want to cut a beginner trail that would go around the perimeter of the golf course, along with a series of expert trails that would branch off from that loop. The trail network at Craig Wood, they said, could be connected via the Jackrabbit Cross Country Ski Trail to a roughly 20-kilometer mountain biking trail network that’s being developed on the Lussi family’s property south of state Route 86.
Erenstone said the goal is to make Lake Placid a mountain biking destination comparable to the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vt., which attracted more than 40,000 riders last year.
“Our hope is to not only make mountain biking more accessible for people who live in the town, but also for people out of town to come here, stay here and go riding,” Erenstone said. “The next chunk that can make this possible would be to make a similar network around the Craig Wood property like we’ve done on the Lussi property.”
McNamara, president of the pro-mountain-biking Barkeater Trails Alliance, said the terrain at Craig Wood is suitable for mountain bike trails. The trails could also be used for hiking, walking and cross-country skiing, he said.
“It’s dry; there’s open space there,” McNamara said. “The ability to create trails in that area without impacting golfers is very good. It makes for a very interesting and attractive trail network.”
“We can do this in a manner that (golfers) essentially won’t know were there,” Erenstone added. “We’ve done that on the Lussi property, and we can duplicate it.”
The town isn’t being asked for any financial support to create or maintain the trail system at Craig Wood, Erenstone said.
“There’s 40 to 50 young, strong, ax-wielding people who’d love to go in there and make some more trails, and it’s all volunteer labor,” he said.
Asked by Councilman Jay Rand who would maintain the trails, Erenstone said they would develop a stewardship program similar to what’s done with the Jackrabbit Trail, where volunteers would be responsible for keeping up certain sections of the trail network.
Supervisor Roby Politi called the plan “a great idea,” but said some areas where the trails have been proposed would intrude on golfers.
“Those two areas are potential problems,” Politi said. “The rest makes sense.”
Politi said the potential for a vast mountain biking network exists in the area, naming a proposed bike path along the railroad corridor, the Henry’s Woods trail system, the Lussi trail system, Craig Wood, and potentially the Old Mountain Road between North Elba and Keene.
“There’s an exciting opportunity for mountain biking in the region,” Politi said.
Town board members said they support the concept of a trail network at Craig Wood. Politi directed Erenstone and McNamara to run their plans by Butch Martin of the North Elba Park District, which manages the golf course.