Pop-up trails give mountain bikers — beginners, too — a course close to uptown

·2 min read

Visitors to Cordelia Park this week may notice something different about one of the hills near the greenway.

A small pavilion now sits at the top of the hill, overlooking two paths indicated with posts and colored tape. A couple mountain bikes rest by the pavilion, and depending on what time of day, one might hear shouts of joy and fear as kids and adults go racing down the hillside, flying over bumps and veering around turns.

This is a pop-up bike park, the city’s newest — but temporary — way of encouraging young and old alike to stay healthy and active through bicycling.

“Our real intent in this project is to bring that outdoor experience into an urban environment,” said Kate Cavazza, the built environment and injury prevention coordinator for Mecklenburg County.

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Cavazza says she sees accessibility as one of the biggest challenges for Charlotte’s mountain-biking community. Local mountain-biking trails usually require a car to access, and many older paths are designed only for serious bikers.

Hence, the Cordelia bike park: a relatively undemanding mountain-bike course just north of uptown.

The park has two paths available, “easy” and “intermediate.” Even the “easy” course will be plenty exhilarating for many beginners, though. Up-close, the path’s apparently gentle slope doesn’t look quite so gentle.

“Too steep!” one child exclaimed on Tuesday evening, having turned back at the last moment.

The pop-up park was originally scheduled to appear for a single day last summer in conjunction with Open Streets 704, a yearly celebration of cycling, running and walking in Charlotte. After the pandemic postponed Open Streets, plans for the pop-up expanded to include this entire week.

Charlotte has experienced a surge in bicycling over the past year: Cavazza recalled a stretch of several weeks where it was almost impossible to find a bike for sale. She said she hopes this project will encourage those who started bicycling during the pandemic to continue having fun outside.

“Don’t forget that bike in your garage, even as things start to open up,” she said.

While the city doesn’t currently have plans for future pop-up bike parks, Cavazza said she’s hopeful this event will open the possibility for more pop-ups or possibly even a permanent installation. Cities such as Denver, Knoxville, Tenn., and Bentonville, Ark. are all home to similar projects – and if Charlotte’s biking boom continues, Cavazza said she thinks there’s a chance it might be next.

“We’re just kind of paving the way,” she said.

Want to Go?

Cordelia Park Bike Park

Where: 600 E. 24th St.

When: 2 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-noon, Sunday.

Note: On Saturday, Bikin’ Dads Adventures will also host a show featuring daredevil bike jumps off of ramps.

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