Coming soon…hiking and mountain biking trails in Roanoke Park

Saturday at the Greenfest at the Uptown Shoppes on Broadway, Brett Shoffner shared an overview of some of the work that’s going on in Roanoke Park. Shoffner showed this photo of himself and another volunteer clearing trails in the park. So far, they’ve carved out more than three-quarters of a mile of recreational trails.

Posted by Joe Lambe

Neighborhood volunteers and mountain bikers swing hand tools as they cut more than two miles of trails through Roanoke Park.

Brett Shoffner, mountain bike racer and graduate student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, leads the effort. It is part of restoring one of the original parks in the city’s famous parks and boulevard system designed by George Kessler.

His volunteer group, the Earth Riders Trails Association, has also created trails in Swope Park and is now starting others in Kessler Park.

In a way, it all ties in with growing citizen efforts nationwide to upgrade and reclaim parks.

The trails are part of a Roanoke Park improvement plan involving the non-profit Roanoke Park Conservancy, the city Parks Department and the neighborhoods of Roanoke, Valentine, Volker and Coleman Highlands.

Citizens have long been tearing out invasive brush honeysuckle in the park and the trail work started on Christmas Eve. By now about three quarters of a mile of trail exists and the system will have about 2 ½ miles when completed next year.

  “Trails help neighborhoods connect to each other,” he said. “People can walk in the park and feel safe because there are legitimate users there.”

The volunteers handle homeless people by finding help for them, Shoffner said. “We don’t drive them out, we let them move out on their own.”

His presentation showed some pictures of mounds of trash in the woods before trail work started, replaced by clear paths that look as though they have been there for years.

Some of the work involved using sledge hammers and chisels to remove layers of rock, he said. The group seldom uses power tools.

They finished a third phase of the trail last week and work will go on until it is all done, he said. Then signs will go up directing people through the system.

Besides working toward a master’s degree in public administration, Shoffner is an intern for the Mid-American Regional Council but he gladly breaks from all that thinking to wield an axe.

 “I like to be outside for some reason – I like physical labor and swinging tools.”

This masterplan show shows the concept for a restored Roanoke Park. The white lines represent trails. So far, three sections of trail have been completed.

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