By Amanda Lane, The Hike Shack
Pioneer Park has been home to several miles of trails for many years. In the last year it has received a serious upgrade. I was astonished to find that Pioneer Park is now home to 25 miles of trails most of which are new. Chris and The Over The Hill Gang as well as other volunteers have added a serious amount of single track trail to this area. I had so much fun getting lost in the 860 acres. The trails systems now have updated posted maps purchased thru a grant from MBAA outlaying suggested routes basted on you desired amount of mileage or travel means. There are specific routes and trail signs for the 10K, and 5K original Brownlow Trails for the runners trying to get in there miles in, as well as color coded routes for biking and hiking on single rack trails. The suggested routes allow you to follow color coded arrows to complete the amount of mileage you where looking for, but the options are endless. I was so impressed to find something for everyone available out there!
There are 4 parking areas to access the trails system, all of which are free. Commerce Drive has the most amount of parking, Jack Drive has a small dirt lot that allows you to easily access the southwestern side, the Kuebler Field parking area, and a small dirt lot is also located off Pioneer Parkway at the scenic outlook. The color coded routes are well marked from every access point. You can stick with a colored route or take a detour and see where it leads. The views where incredible and the trails are mostly well groomed. The hills are very gradual and the sweeping turns kept me entertained on my bike as well as on my feet. I ran into hikers, dog walkers, bikers, and equestrian users as well. Everyone has plenty of space out here to enjoy solitude or company. Even when the parking lots were full, I managed to find a route all to myself. The trails system does attract some race venues, but I think even on race days if you found out what the course was, you could enter from another parking area and enjoy the trails as a spectator from a safe distance.
I spent the last week exploring this area and there is still more to do. I took my 9 year old niece on her first single track bike ride. I ran with my dog and hiked with some old friends. The trails are so close to town that no time was wasted in the car and everyone was entertained. I honestly have avoided this area for years because I found it a little dull. I remember riding through the sand on a less than entertaining trail I had no desire to hike. I can honestly say I have found a new love for this little spot in the middle of our great community. I found myself surrounded by sounds of nature, wondering thru the boulders, riding through tunnels that looked like they lead off the end of the earth, running through fields of blooming cactus, cliff rose and wildflowers, and enjoying amazing views of our mountains and communities. I meet very sweet women getting a little afternoon adventure in with her 4 year old son as well as a lovely couple willing to pose for a sunset picture on an afternoon stroll. I was surprised and thankful I took the time to give this area second chance.