As a mountain biking enthusiast and Nitro resident, Tracy Toler often rides his bike on the main trail at Ridenour Lake.
It’s a nice trail, but it’s short, and once you’ve ridden it a few times, it gets a bit monotonous, he said.
So, with the blessing of Nitro City Council, Toler and his friend Jim Caudill, also of Nitro, and other volunteers, including Steve Warnick and Matt Poff, have been carving out another trail at Ridenour that is suitable for both mountain bikers and hikers.
The new trail is above the existing, main trail, so Toler is calling it, unofficially, the “High Lake Trail.” It is accessed via a path near the dog park at Ridenour.
“It’s for biking, hiking and trail running,” Toler said, as he led a visitor along the newly established and nearly completed path.
Toler moved to Nitro a few years ago from Winfield and immediately began using the trail at Ridenour Lake. In fact, he said it’s an easy bike ride from his house to Ridenour Lake.
“I just thought there’s a big need for some additional trails,” Toler said. “The lake trail is nice, but it gets boring kind of quick — we need a few extra miles.”
The main lake trail gets a lot of use, and walkers use it, as well.
To get a workout on the half-mile trail, “they walk back and forth,” he said.
The new trail that Toler, Caudill and others are working on is almost a half-mile long and is in the woods above the lake trail.
“I’m calling it the High Lake Trail. It literally takes the same path — it’s just a higher notch. I can ride it two or three times without feeling bored.”
Toler started a Facebook group called Friends of Ridenour, and he and Caudill urge people to volunteer with trail building and maintenance. The Friends of Ridenour wants to help the city promote health, wellness, outdoor recreation and improvements to the Ridenour Lake area.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” Caudill said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Toler said he started laying out the new trail last year. Last May, he appeared before Nitro City Council to explain his plan for expanding the trail. He asked permission to to organize volunteers and to design and build a single-track trail.
“Which they approved,” he said.
With the new trail, Toler would also like to see 5K trail races at Ridenour Lake. It would be good for fundraising runs and cross-country meets.
The new trail has some “switchbacks” on it, which makes it a little easier to bike and trail run on.
“If you come straight up the hill, it’s not really good trail building; it could cause erosion and everything else.”
In building the new trail, Toler said volunteers used hand tools such as rakes and shovels to clear away the path. Toler also has a tiller attachment for his weed eater that he used to carve out the trail.
He also needs to build a small bridge on one section of the new trail where there is a “drain-off spot.”
“That’s only the real obstacle to being open,” he said. “It’s about a 14-foot span.”
Toler said the trail should be finished in about two weeks.
Caudill said there are some other, existing trails at Ridenour that could be improved.
“There’s are some other little trails that we could improve and at some point, hopefully, maybe, put in some little picnic areas or camp areas. But that’s way down the road,” Caudill said.
Toler hopes the new trail will lead to more improvements at Ridenour Lake
“I really feel like this new small trail is a catalyst for many developments to come at the lake. All communities need a place to easily access nature, pull yourself away from the smartphone and get grounded.”
For those wanting to get involved in the trail or to learn about events there, visit the Friends of Ridenour Facebook page, which currently has about 600 followers.
“That’s the best way for people to contact us,” Toler said.