SARANAC LAKE - Dewey Mountain Recreation Center celebrated the official grand opening of its mountain bike trails Sunday.
The recreation area now has 5.5 miles of new trails thanks to the work of volunteers with the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA). The project has been in the works for about four years.
The trail work, along with an increased interest in mountain biking locally, spurred activity at Dewey, which is owned by the town of Harrietstown and managed by Saranac Lake-based Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters.
Jasper Wiech and Adrien Hayden break the ribbon on 5.5 miles of new mountain biking trails at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center in Saranac Lake. Holding the ribbon are Harrietstown town Councilman Ron Keough, left, and Matt McNamara, president of Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), which constructed the trails. Chrissy Hayden of Dewey Mountain Friends rings a cowbell.
(Photo — Chris Morris)
Volunteer Birgette Schulte and John Dimon, owner of Human Power Planet Earth bicycle shop in Saranac Lake, demonstrate the art of mountain bike maintenance at the Dewey Mountain trail-opening celebration.
(Photo — Chris Morris)
"Mountain bike use at Dewey is up significantly," said Jason Smith of Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters. "Already this year, I've noticed more calls to Lakes and Trails."
In addition to the new trails, there are now biking maps for the small hill, which is also open to hikers and runners. Trail signs and markers have also been installed by BETA and the North Country Heart Network, a local nonprofit that promotes healthy lifestyle choices.
Dewey is a four-season mountain-sports venue that is best known for its nordic ski trails in the winter time. Community races and ski programs for children are held on a regular basis throughout the skiing season.
In recent years, supporters of Dewey Mountain have made a big effort to upgrade facilities and encourage more use from the public in all seasons. The recreation center is also currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign to come up with more than $500,000 for a new base lodge.
Smith said last autumn while prepping the nordic ski trails he really noticed a lot of biking activity.
"We were just having way more conversations with mountain bikers than ever before in our nine years of doing this," he said. "I think people have been riding ski trails there, but with addition of singletrack, the singletrack riders are all showing up."
Much of that credit goes to BETA. The organization develops, maintains and advocates for diverse and connected multi-use trails in the Adirondack Tri-Lakes region. BETA is currently building a network of trails at Mount Pisgah, Saranac Lake's downhill-ski venue.
Smith also said that for the first time ever, Dewey is hosting mountain biking programs for children. The first one is all filled up, he said, but he anticipates that another one will take place later in the summer.
For families without mountain bikes, a limited number of bikes are available at no cost.
For more information on Dewey trails or programs, call Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters at 891-7450.