MOUNTAIN BIKING IN MISSOURI
Two Rivers Bike Park
At Two Rivers Bike Park (5055 2 Rivers Rd., Highlandville), the sprawling hillside is stitched with trails that twist and turn through tree-lined paths. It’s quiet and serene, but there’s an atmosphere of adventure and adrenaline that hangs in the air.
Located on the outskirts of Nixa, Two Rivers is the perfect example of the types of multiuse trails TrailSpring wants to build in and around Springfield. Since opening Two Rivers last year, the non-profit TrailSpring has seen riders from all over the country flock to this outdoor attraction. But while Two Rivers is already an impressive success story that demonstrates the value of investing in mountain bike trails, TrailSpring has much loftier goals that will take some work.
To get a better idea of TrailSpring’s future plans, talk to its founder, Matt O’Reilly. Since moving back to Springfield from Colorado several years ago, O’Reilly traded his snowboard for a mountain bike, and when the mountain biking trails available in southwest Missouri didn’t cut it for him, he decided to build his own. So with a sizeable investment from TrailSpring and plenty of aspiration, O’Reilly turned his family’s farmland into a public mountain biking park.
Every trail at Two Rivers is purpose-built, which means these trails were built with mountain bikes in mind. There are steep downhill runs that offer plenty of jumps, cross country trails that offer longer jaunts and a skill course that’s perfect for beginners. You won’t find any dirt bikes or ATVs, but you will find runners and hikers.
“This idea of using private property for public use is very unique,” O’Reilly says. There are legal hurdles, and maintenance is a constant issue, but the payoff is worth it. Just ask O’Reilly about the CAMBA Mountain Bike Trail System in northwest Wisconsin. “This is a town of 10,000 people,” he explains. “They have 100 miles of mountain bike trails. So if a town this size can build a national attraction and be slammed with people coming out to use those trails, then surely building mountain bike trails can help our community, too.”
Enter TrailSpring. This non-profit’s mission is to introduce more 417-landers to the sport of mountain biking and to provide them with top-notch trails. In fact, the organization has a 30-in-three goal—30 miles of trails in three years, with all of those trails located within 30 minutes of Springfield.
“Trails are every bit as important to a community as having an art museum,” O’Reilly says. “It’s student retention, fitness, tourism dollars and job attraction. Trails are a great way to bring money into the community.”
With plans to build more trails in the future, TrailSpring holds up Two Rivers Bike Park as the poster child of what purpose-built, single-track trails can offer.