Dayton is building a new mountain bike park that some tourism officials say will strengthen the case that this area really is the “outdoor adventure capital” of the Midwest.
The Miami Valley region has the largest network of paved bike trails in the nation, and Dayton’s new $1.1 million Bike Yard near Welcome Stadium will be the third local outdoor mountain bike park to open in the last several years.
Existing outdoor bike parks in Huber Heights and Lebanon, as well as an indoor park in East Dayton, draw cycling enthusiasts from all over, and adding another high-quality park will further enhance the recreational lure of southwest Ohio.
“The more we have, the better,” said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Not only does it help us bring people here, it could potentially help extend the length of the stay they have while they are here.”
The Dayton City Commission recently approved a $1.1 million contract with Missouri-based American Ramp Co. Inc. to install new bike park equipment and amenities at Welcome Park, near Welcome Stadium in the Carillon neighborhood.
About seven acres of the roughly 10-acre park will be converted into bike facilities and active features, including a perimeter trail, city staff said. A bike playground at the park had a grand opening last fall.
The entire Dayton Bike Yard project will cost about $1.8 million, and construction should get underway this fall and finish up by the spring of 2023, said Susan Vincent, a city planner.
The Bike Yard will have a wide variety of bike features — pump tracks, flow trails, slope-style trails, a climbing hill, jump lines and a rock skills trail.
Trails will be asphalt, instead of dirt, which means they can be used in more weather conditions and will be easier to maintain.
Prefabricated features should include kicker ramps, ladder drops, wedge transitions, a curved wall, a “whale tail,” rollers and more.
Cycling advocates say the Dayton Bike Yard is a very big deal and will be as good as any park within a reasonable driving distance.
The Miami Valley region already is home to the largest paved-trail network in the nation, and many people have touted the growing number of local bike paths and amenities.
An article in National Geographic several years ago declared the Dayton area the “outdoor adventure capital” of the Midwest, partly because of its bike network.
Huber Heights and Lebanon already have outdoor bike parks, which are less than 40 miles apart.
The Dayton Bike Yard site sits between them, about a dozen miles from the park in Huber Heights and less than 30 miles from the one in Lebanon.
Dayton is also home to Mike’s Indoor Bike Park, which opened in East Dayton in 2017.
Monita Field Bike and Skate Park on the 5000 block of Fishburg Road in Huber Heights officially had its grand opening in June.
But the park has been popular since concrete was laid down last year, creating a freestyle skate pad, and ramps were added later, said Josh King, parks manager for Huber Heights.
King said a large number of kids regularly visit the $1.2 million park, which has ramps, halfpipes, a pump track, a BMX gravel track and the newest feature — a paved mountain bike skills loop trail.
Riders at the park come from Huber Heights and surrounding communities, but some groups also visit from Columbus, Cincinnati and elsewhere in Ohio, as well as from Indiana, King said.
“These amenities are truly a draw,” he said. “People love to travel to bike parks and skate parks.”
Local bike parks are helping make southwest Ohio a recreation destination, enticing people to come visit and maybe even move here, said Casey Burdick, Lebanon’s recreation and natural resources coordinator.
Lebanon’s Premier Health Bike Park has been wildly popular, Burdick said, and while most regular riders come from southwest Ohio, a significant number of visitors hail from northern Kentucky and southern Indiana.
The parking lot is full most weekends, and sometimes it contains vehicles with license plates from western U.S. states.
“I feel very confident we are attracting a lot folks to Lebanon specifically because of the bike park,” Burdick said. “I received calls from as far as Oregon asking about our bike park.”
Lebanon’s bike park originally started with 45 acres when it opened in 2018 but has been expanded to 108 acres.
The park features mountain bike trails, a couple of pump tracks, jump lines, a cyclocross course and a gravel perimeter trail.
The company behind the construction of the Bike Yard and the park in Huber Heights — American Ramp Co. — is one of the best in the business, said Trent Walters, vice president of the Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association, a nonprofit that has been a partner on the Bike Yard and also helped with the Monita Field project.
Riders will travel significant distances to visit high-quality parks, Walters said, and this region soon will have three top-notch outdoor bike parks and one indoor facility that all offer different experiences.
Walters visits Monita Field once or twice a week where he has met riders from Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Dayton is within a several hour drive of some major markets, including Cleveland, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Toledo, Louisville and Detroit.
The main goal of these bike parks is to provide recreational options to the local community, Walters said, but out-of-town riders definitely will flock to them as well, which will benefit the regional economy because these visitors undoubtedly will spend money at local businesses.
In addition to the bike parks, this region also is home to the MetroParks Mountain Biking Area at Huffman MetroPark, the Troy Mountain Bike Area and mountain bike trails in Yellow Springs, and there’s also multiple dirt jump areas, he said.
“Any type of bike that you want to ride, you can bring them all to Dayton and ride them in different ways,” he said.
On a recent weekday, Autumn Porter and her three boys visited the Huber Heights bike park for the second time.
Porter’s family lives about 15 minutes away, in Vandalia, but they used to live in Kentucky, where it was a drive of an hour or more to visit similar types of park facilities.
Porter said she thinks her family will regularly visit the Huber Heights bike park, but she also expects they will want to try out the Dayton Bike Yard.
Her 3-year-old son, Maclynn, likes the Huber Heights park so much he wants to have his next birthday party there.
“We will be here a lot,” she said.