ST. GEORGE — A recent ribbon-cutting ceremony showcased the first 10 miles of East Zion Bike Trail, a publicly accessible mountain biking trail providing stellar views into Zion National Park.
The trailhead is a quarter-mile onto North Fork Country Road, the last road before heading into the Zion National Park’s east entrance on state Route 9. Or, it is the first road exiting, depending on direction of travel. The trail is public, even though it cuts through private land because of the land easements.
“Creating meaningful access to Utah’s amazing landscape and doing it through a partnership with so many amazing stakeholders is a fulfillment of our purpose,” Pitt Grewe, executive director for the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, said. “We can’t wait to see the progress continue and seek new ways we can continue to work together.”
East Zion Bike Trail was unveiled recently at the 8th annual Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit. The Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Zion Forever Project, Zion Cycles, Utah Clean Cities and Magnum presented the ceremony. Representatives from state and local entities and the Zion National Park superintendent also attended. Attendees celebrated the opening with a bike ride.
The first 10 miles were made possible by land grants and easements from private landowners, donations to the Zion Forever Project, funding through the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation Grant, The National Park Foundation and support from Kane County.
Mark Preiss, Zion National Park Forever Project director, said the trails represent the power of partnership.
“With the new visitor center now funded and planned, the importance of bringing together public and private partners, along with local, state and federal land management agencies, cannot be understated,” Preiss said. “This new home for visitors and the access and opportunities it creates are examples of the next-generation spirit that is alive and well here in Utah.”
Preiss said plans include raising funds for the next phase of trails and education programming. The next 24.5 miles of trail slated in Phase II will be funded by the Zion Forever Project and a collaboration of public and private partners. The Zion Forever Project is the official nonprofit partner of Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring national monuments.
Two local families, the McLaws and Neelemans, donated the land for the bike path. The new trailheads next to the East Zion Visitor Center site were financed through efforts coordinated by Kane County Commissioners.
The new bike trail is one of the many features planned for the national park’s east entrance to assist overcrowding. One of its purposes is to spread visitors to lesser-traveled parts of the park.
The National Park Service visitor center will serve visitors, trailheads and interpretive programs on Zion’s east side. The location will become a hub for the regional transportation center. In a unique effort by Utah Clean Cities, new EV shuttles will begin running from the town of Kanab. Eventually, fleets of alternative fueled vehicles may transport guests within the park and to gateway communities east of Zion National Park.
Data from the National Park Service shows that more than 4 million visitors have traveled to Zion National Park this year. Mountain biking is not allowed inside the park. Zion National Park contributes over $340 million each year to Utah’s outdoor recreation economy and provides for approximately 4,000 jobs in local communities.
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