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Government Peak adds new black diamond mountain bike trails

The Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers nonprofit hopes the new routes make the area more of a destination for mountain biking
There are two new, one-way, black diamond runs at the Government Peak Recreation Area single track course.
There are two new, one-way, black diamond runs at the Government Peak Recreation Area single track course.(Heather Hintze)
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 11:32 AM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Government Peak Recreation Area is becoming a destination for mountain biking.

Riders looking for a challenge have a few new options on the single track course.

The Valley Mountain Bikers and Hiker’s nonprofit organization just finished work on two, one-way black diamond runs off the Monkshood Loop.

“World-class mountain bike trails have berms and jumps, and they’re machine built and they have higher speeds and people really find that fun and engaging. So out in the valley, we wanted to have that,” said VMBaH board member Mike Danz.

Danz said people should follow the pre-ride, re-ride, free ride concept; scope out the trails first, then take a slower run before really digging in so you know what you’re in for.

On a crisp fall evening, 16-year-old Teagan Dervaes and his friend Terje Decovich showed off their skills on the new routes, flying over jumps and speeding through the steep-sloped corners.

Dervaes said he was happy to have advanced trails closer to home.

“I think it was good because we usually had to go to Anchorage to ride more jumpy, flowy trails and bigger berms. Now that we have these out there I feel like more people will be out here riding them and good for us to not have to drive all that way too,” he said.

The Puffball and Amanita trails bring GPRA to about seven miles of single track.

Danz said volunteers are slowly adding a couple of miles every year because they’re time-consuming and expensive to build.

“Downhill trails have a lot of earth moved and a lot of excavation and a lot of drainage put in. This isn’t even a swampy area but these corners are so big and the jumps are so tall that puddles will develop in them so you have to have drainage that moves it,” Danz explained.

The Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation funded this latest phase of the project. Executive Director Wes Hoskins said the trails cost nearly $36,000. The entire construction was estimated at $54,000 including in-kind labor.

“We’re building this out for visitors and valley residents alike,” Hoskins said.

Hoskins said bike infrastructure is growing around the Mat-Su. Settlers Bay on near the Knik-Goose Bay Road just added a new course and the Willow Area Community Organization is planning one too.

“If you have really nice bike trails and a bike skills park at Settlers Bay, that’s really going to help people’s quality of life and make it so people aren’t having to drive all over the place,” Hoskins said.

Danz hopes their hard work will bring more riders in to see what GPRA has to offer as they continue to expand the network of trails.

The long-term goal is to connect the Government Peak area with the core of Hatcher Pass and Skeetawk, the new downhill skiing area a few miles down the road.

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