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CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Hidden in the middle of the city, between the Clarksville Greenway and the neighborhoods lining Providence Boulevard, you’ll discover a little-known gem of Clarksville: the North Ford Street Mountain Bike Trail.
The park is voluntarily maintained by the Clarksville Area Mountain Biking Alliance, also known as CAMBA TN, in collaboration with the Clarksville Parks and Recreation Department.
Stu and Lori Drake head up the volunteer group and run much of the coordination between their organization and the city. The couple started the alliance a year ago, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down events and indoor gatherings.
“We had our first in-person meeting with Parks and Recreation, and the following month, our first CAMBA meeting had to be virtual,” Lori said. “We’ve been on modified ops, and very restricted sized in our gatherings and work groups since then, but we’ve been diligent nonetheless.”
The first trail the group built was a warm-up run right off the trailhead called “Funky Chicken,” and others came soon. All of the trails and features have fun names, such as “Clifford,” “The Gnome Zone,” “The Drop Zone” and “Ewoks.” The names are voted on by CAMBA members.
The park is 90 acres, but the trails are cordoned to only about 40 acres. The rest remains undeveloped, as proximity to the Red River means the area is prone to flooding.
The Drakes said that over the last 13 months, their regular trail crew of six have put in more that 1,200 volunteer hours building out the park and maintaining its trails.
“We love this park, and we’ve built it for the people,” Lori said. “We get excited when we come in to build or to care or to clean up, and there’s cars and riders and families. Our hearts are just filled with joy, like the people are here to enjoy what we’ve built out of love.”
The park is home to trails for all skill levels and ages. There are double black diamond trails for expert riders, and an area called the “Gnome Zone” for young riders to try out miniature versions of the park’s features, like see-saws and ramps.
The “Gnome Zone” even has a picnic table in the middle for parents who want to bring their younger children to ride, but still want to be able to keep a constant eye on them. The Drakes modeled the “Gnome Zone” features on suggestions from their daughter Zoe, who also rides.
Another feature, the “Boots ‘n’ Cats” run, is a double-wide, straight rhythm race track made up of smaller rolling hills that gradually get bigger.
To make the rolling mounds for the track, the alliance repurposed old baseball and softball field dirt. And the wood for drops and the “Ewoks” feature bridge were cut from the land and reused to minimize the environmental impact of the park.
"There’s plenty of neighborhood kids that have been coming by. They just have whatever bike they’ve already had and they show up and they ride,” Stu said. “One of the kids yesterday was like, ‘I’m going to get a mountain bike,'” Stu said.
“We’re hoping that this summer, more people who have now come to learn about the park can now come and enjoy the park in larger groups even,” Lori said.
Parking for the North Ford Street Mountain Bike Trail is at 2470 N. Ford St. down a gravel road that leads to a gravel parking lot with signs and maps of the trail.
For more about the Clarksville Area Mountain Bike Alliance, go to cambatn.org.
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