For nearly 20 years, mountain bike enthusiasts have been riding through the hills of Lincoln Parish Park near the northern Louisiana city of Ruston. These trails provide an unexpected challenge for bicyclists with plenty of ups and downs, switchbacks and creek crossings.
Lincoln Parish Park manager James Ramsaur designed the mountain bike trails. He had just returned to his hometown of Ruston from Colorado, where he took up the sport of mountain biking. “I felt like this piece of property had a lot of good opportunities for good mountain bike trails,” Ramsaur says. The trails opened in 1993, with labor help from the cycling team at nearby Louisiana Tech University.
The trail forms an 11-mile-long loop as it meanders through the forested park. “You get about a thousand feet of climbing,” explains Ramsaur, in what he calls “punchy climbs”. One of the trail highlights is Tomac Hill, a 120-long dropoff that resembles a ski slope. “It’s all downhill,” explains mountain biker Scott Greenwood. “You don’t really have a way to stop or get off of it,” Greenwood says, “so you just hold on tight and take the ride.” And Ramsaur believes this trail has some of the first switchbacks on mountain bike trails in the South. While some of the trail features require experience to safely maneuver, the park has four miles of beginner trails.
The trails take advantage of the park’s natural landscape as they pass near bluffs, around a large lake and a man-made waterfall. The waterfall controls the water level in the park’s 25-acre lake and feeds a small rocky stream. There are several shallow water crossings along the bike trail. “We’re really a nature based park,” Ramsaur says, “for people to escape from the world out there and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the woods.”
The Lincoln Parish Police Jury owns this 280-acre park, with no financial help from state or federal agencies. The park features 33 RV campsites and another 12 tent sites that overlook the large lake. And there is also a sandy beach with a lifeguard for swimming.
Photo: Courtesy of Lincoln Park Ruston
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