Over the past several years a new system of mountain bike trails has been slowing growing in the Bayfield County Forest on the south side of Mt. Ashwabay near Bayfield. The trail system is poised to make a major leap forward as it launches into its third and most significant phase.
In 2011 the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) in conjunction with a group of passionate volunteers from the Chequamegon Bay area with the support of the Bayfield County Forestry Department and the Ashwabay Outdoor Education Foundation, embarked on a vision to create a top notch system of mountain bike trails. Since that time the project has steadily advanced toward this reality. The summer of 2017 will see the completion of Phase 2 of the initiative, bringing the mileage to date to approximately 14 miles. The third phase of the project will immediately launch with over six additional miles of trail planned to be built bringing the total mileage to near 20 miles.
The Mt. Ashwabay trails have already begun to make their mark on the Bayfield Peninsula, adding yet another reason to visit this special area at the top of Wisconsin. Trail use has grown steadily; in 2016 over 2,200 riders took to the Mt. Ashwabay trails. With the completion of this ambitious project, the Mt. Ashwabay trails will join the ranks of other top Midwest trail networks and will elevate the Bayfield Peninsula/Chequamegon Bay area to that of a true mountain biking destination.
According to CAMBA executive director, Ron Bergin, “CAMBA has been building and promoting mountain bike trails in Bayfield County for the past 25 years.” “It has been our experience,” he adds, “that the trails truly do have a positive impact on the local economy and the community of people, both locals and visitors, that use the trails. The Mt. Ashwabay Trails are a special recreational asset that we expect to stimulate numerous benefits for the area.”
While initially fueled by a strong corps of dedicated volunteers who hand built the first 1.5 miles of trail and continue to hold weekly work nights, CAMBA has contracted with a talented regional professional trail builder to construct a large percentage of the Mt. Ashwabay trails. “Professionally built trails come with a hefty price tag,” Bergin adds, “but are worth every penny with a resulting product that is very attractive to the mountain biking community and would otherwise take considerably longer to build.”
The budget for the Phase 3 initiative will run between $65,000 and $70,000. To generate sufficient funding to undertake this ambitious project, a dedicated fund raising initiative is now underway. “The good news,” says Bergin, “is that we already have substantial commitments of funds.” These include a Recreational Trails Program grant through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $22,500 and a 1% for Recreation Grant of $2,500. In addition, Bayfield Forestry Department has pledged an additional grant of $20,000 to match donations generated through fund raising efforts. Another matching program has been offered by the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce, which will match sponsorships of the project by its members up to $10,000. Even with all of this support, a goal of $15,000-$20,000 remains to fully fund the project.
Over the next few months, local fund raising events will be held around the Bayfield Peninsula and Chequamegon Bay area. Individual donations and business sponsorships are also welcome.
It is important to note that all funds raised through this initiative will be dedicated solely to the construction of Phase 3 of the Mt. Ashwabay Mountain Bike Trails. CAMBA is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt organization and all donations are fully tax-deductible.
Individuals wishing to make a donation may do so by mail by sending a check to: Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA), P.O. Box 141, Cable, WI 54821. Please note on your check: Mt. Ashwabay Trails. Donations may also be made online at: www.cambatrails.org.