Great Passion Play Opens Trails

The Great Passion Play is excited to announce the completion of the first phase of construction hiking and mountain biking trails on the Passion Play grounds. Renowned mountain bike and recreational trail builder Tony Boone and his crew completed building the first 5-mile loop of what is planned to be over 18 miles of trails on the almost 700-acre complex of the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

“We started building hiking and nature trails through the Holy Land Tour area with youth mission trip groups in summer 2016 and it really started to snowball from there,” said Kent Butler, director of marketing for the Play. “After hiking the trails with members of the local Carroll County Ozark Off-Road Cyclists organization in fall 2016, we saw that hiking was just the beginning and that mountain biking especially was something that people wanted to do. We soon got connected with Brannon Pack, the executive director for Ozark Off-Road Cyclists, who really became a catalyst in this project.”

The Ozark Off-Road Cyclists non-profit organization has helped build notable trails in Devil’s Den State Park, Hobbs State Park, and in Lake Leatherwood Park in Eureka Springs, among many others. Pack added, “You can feel the synergy at work with the Passion Play, our organization, the NWA Trailblazers, and with Tony Boone coming into the picture.” Pack continued, “Tony literally helped write the book on building awesome single-track and great riding experiences for the International Mountain Bike Association.”

“When I came into Eureka Springs in 2016,” Justin Huss, the Eureka Springs parks director, shared, “I said that we were going to have a trail system that’ll be the envy of all in the area. We have made great strides in making that a reality and this makes it even more so. Our goal of connecting the great trails of Lake Leatherwood to Black Bass to trails in town to now the potential of the Passion Play is really an amazing opportunity.”

“The Christ of the Ozarks has been open free to the public year-round since it was built in 1966,” shared Randall Christy, the Play’s executive director. “And, we are excited for the rest of the undeveloped property to be open for people to experience as well. There are things for people to do year-round here on the Passion Play grounds already and this just adds quite a bit to that.”
“During the past few weeks my team has built a 5-mile loop for beginners which provides Eureka Springs and the Passion Play with another great attraction for Mountain bikers,” Boone said. “We have crafted a master plan that features 18 miles of potential trails on the Passion Play’s undeveloped property,” Boone added that his company has already committed to building trail in other locations during the year, so the first phase of the 5-mile trail loop is all that is on the docket to be completed before summer. “It’s a big project and the dip in temperatures made it a pretty slow start. Our plan is to finish this 5-mile trail and then come back during the last quarter of 2018 to complete the rest with the hopeful completion date sometime in 2019. People are really going to enjoy using our stacked loop trail system.”

The 5-mile trail loop is designed to be friendly to all user groups and skill levels which includes hikers and mountain bikers of all ages. “When finished,” Boone stated, “these trails will be a good and easier contrast compared to some of the trails in Eureka Springs. We do, of course, have in the plans some trails for more advanced riders but we specifically wanted the majority of these trails to be accessible to the general public.”

This trail was specifically designed to meet the specifications to host NICA mountain bike association races. Kyla Templeton, the Director of the Arkansas NICA high school mountain bike racing league, visited the flag marked trail this past week and planning is beginning for the first race.

The Great Passion Play’s performance season runs from the first Friday in May until the last weekend of October with year-round attractions including the Christ of the Ozarks, Holy Land Tour, hiking and nature trails, Noah’s Ark Park Petting Zoo, Bible Museum, Berlin Wall Section, Church in the Grove, and gift shops. For reservations, performance schedules, volunteer opportunities, or special event information, go to GreatPassionPlay.org or call toll free 800-882-7529. Join the 7.8 million who have seen “The Greatest Story Ever Told” at The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Eureka Springs Downhill Mountain Bike Trail to open Thursday, June 14th

In conjunction with the Walton Family Foundation and the Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation Commission, the newest downhill mountain biking trails at Lake Leatherwood City Park will officially open June 14th at 10AM with a ribbon cutting Ceremony.  The event will be held at the cabin on Bear Mountain on Highway 62W; guests are asked to arrive by 9:45 am.  Lake Leatherwood City Park is 5.1 miles from Downtown Eureka Springs and is operated by the Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation Commission.  The cabin is just West of the park.

 

The Eureka Springs Downhill is the most recent expansion to an already vibrant Eureka Springs Trail system.  Guided by the Parks Commission and Lake Leatherwood master plans, trails have been a key component to tourism in Eureka Springs since the opening of its first major trail, The Beacham trail at Lake Leatherwood.  In 2018, this effort has gained increased momentum with the opening of the trail system at the Great Passion Play and Arkansas’ first Downhill Course.  With this development, Eureka Springs now has a prominent placement within the Oz Trails system and continues to strengthen Lake Leatherwood, Eureka Springs and Northwest Arkansas as a top-tier destination for mountain bikers.   Information on Eureka Springs Trails is available at BikeEurekaSprings.com

 

The Eureka Springs Downhill was built thanks to the vision and the generous gift of Steuart and Tom Walton and the Walton Family Foundation.  Rock Solid Trail contracting, the foremost leader in trail development served as a builder while site integrity was provided by Director Huss and the Parks & Recreation Commission.

 

The community is encouraged to join the Chamber of Commerce in cutting the ribbon this Thursday at 10 AM.