By Kimber Ray
With the scheduled opening of Bailey Mountain Bike Park in Mars Hill, N.C., this June, mountain bikers skilled at high-speed maneuvering down steep, rough terrain may soon travel to rural Madison County from across the country.
Unlike traditional downhill trail operations, which often convert to ski slopes in the winter, Bailey will be the first in the U.S. to remain open year-round and cater exclusively to mountain bikers. The first stage of the park will include five trails, but the long-term plan is to build as many as 30 trails.
The nonprofit Natural Capital Investment Fund, a business loan fund that supports sustainable economic development, helped finance the park.
“We’re looking to make ourselves a mini-destination,” says Bailey co-owner Jennifer Miller. “It’s highly likely that the people who come to us will go and explore other things in the area too, whether it be the hot springs or downtown Marshall or Mars Hill.”
Miller is optimistic that, combined with continued development of nearby cross-country bike trails, Bailey’s opening could help “put Madison County on the map for some major mountain biking action.”