Originally Published in the Claremore Daily Progress - Nov 29, 2016 - Mary Pryor
It was a trail that had been forgotten. Overgrown and no longer used, the mountain bike trail at Claremore Lake Park had not been utilized for years before a few people came together and decided to breathe life into it once again.
Claremore native Josh Froman and longtime resident Rory Peterson took the initiative to make a few changes to the trail, which was built by the city nearly eight years ago. Froman led the first cleanup effort and renewal of the original trail system at the park two years ago. His team of volunteers cleared the trails and added a bridge, along with a new sign that includes a trail map for visitors.
Peterson took it upon himself to continue to build on that first cleanup effort. With the blessing of the city, but no funding, Peterson began a plan of extending the trail around the circumference of Claremore Lake. The entire trail system now sits at 4 miles in length.
While Peterson took the reigns in leading the effort, it is one that he knows he did not do alone. “There are a lot of people who make this a great group effort,” he said.
According to Peterson, Billy Helton has played a part in maintenance of the new and old trail system. Tanner Hugely has come on board this past year, helping with maintenance, trail-building by hand and running a mini excavator through unchartered territory.
Brandon Claborn has been helpful in providing maps for the expansion project while also helping to build trail and promote the undertaking. City Parks Director Joe Kays has been supportive by providing tools, raw materials and most recently a split rail fence, out of his own pocket.
Adding an additional 4-5 miles of new trail is on the agenda of these trailblazers with a passion for outdoor living. The local mountain bikers have even organized themselves as part of a statewide chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) known as the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship — OEF Claremore. Being a part of IMBA will help the local group with trail building, maintenance and general direction as they expand.
The trail has already brought in a number of mountain bikers and hiking enthusiasts of all ages from around Northeast Oklahoma. The Rogers State University and Claremore High School cross-country runners have also been taking advantage of the trails. It is fast becoming known as one of the best-maintained trails in the state.
“It’s great to see that people realize we have a special place to enjoy the outdoors and develop a healthy lifestyle,” Peterson said.
Peterson said, “It’s wonderful to witness the transformation along Lake Claremore as an area that used to be a place people would dump trash into a pristine wilderness trail that invites visitors to enjoy this great location.”
Peterson added that Claremore Collective has been helpful in promoting the trail and provided food and extra volunteers for the most recent workday. It’s an initiative that the Collective’s Director, Meggie Froman-Knight, is proud to include in their Make Your Mark! public interest campaign.
According to Froman-Knight, “This campaign revealed a tremendous interest in healthy living and outdoor culture among young professionals, and Claremore Lake is the perfect location to focus these efforts. Rory Peterson has done a magnificent job leading this initiative.”
Peterson hopes to see the trail turn into even more of a regional outdoor destination with nice restrooms, water stations and a large covered pavilion to host races and outdoor festivals in the future. To volunteer and participate in maintenance or trail building, message the group on the Claremore Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page.