JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., OCT. 4, 2011 – Mountain bikers and hikers will have another reason to visit Finger Lakes State Park near Columbia, thanks to a new trail opening at the park. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Kelley Branch Mountain Bike Trail will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14 at the trailhead in the park’s day-use area. The public is invited to the ceremony and everyone is encouraged to bring their mountain bikes and be among some of the first cyclists to try out the new trail.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be followed by the park’s public information meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. in the day-use picnic area.
The 2.75-mile loop trail, open to mountain bikers and hikers, is located in the wooded hills along the Kelley Branch stream, an area closed to off-road vehicle traffic. The park is best known for the reclaimed strip mined areas popular with off-road vehicle riders, but this portion of the park is very scenic and rugged. Trail users will experience wooded landscapes, small hills and bottomland areas as well as passing by a small waterfall and the site of an old mining bridge. Wildlife such as deer and beaver are often spotted in the woods and near the stream.
“Mountain bikers and hikers will experience a new and different side of Finger Lakes State Park when they use this great new trail in a very scenic area. We are always trying to expand our recreational opportunities and this trail is a good example of the variety our state parks provide,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The trail was built by park staff and members of the State Parks Youth Corps, a summer jobs program initiated by Gov. Jay Nixon. The Osage Region Trail Association, a local mountain bike club, assisted in the layout and construction of the trail.
At the public informational meeting, staff will highlight recent accomplishments at the park, including progress on the Recreational Trails Program grants awarded to the park. Input on ideas for future projects and plans for the park will be discussed. Trail volunteers will have the opportunity to sign up to attend a trail work day. The informational effort to ensure citizens have input on facilities and services offered in state parks and historic sites.
Finger Lakes State Park is located seven miles north of Columbia off U.S. Highway 63. The 1,128-acre park is well known for its areas open to all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. The park also includes a campground and several lakes for swimming and fishing.
People requiring special services or accommodations to attend the informational meeting can make arrangements by calling the park at 573-443-5315 or by calling the Missouri Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). For information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.