Port Oliver Trail carves out a place in Bowling Green

In early January, the Southwest chapter of the Kentucky Mountain Biking Association (KyMBA) held their first quarter meeting at The Bike Rack Bistro, a homey, bike-themed restaurant near downtown Bowling Green.  Owner and cyclist, Patrick Folker, is kind enough to keep the joint open late for our Godfather-esque dinner. KyMBA members surrounded the long dining room table to discuss new office appointments, and most importantly, new trails. Passed around the table was a GPS diagram of the upcoming Port Oliver Trail. Group members were excited to make another addition to Kentucky’s ever-growing mountain bike trail system.  

Since the middle of January, KyMBA has been cutting the Port Oliver Trail, dubbed “Twisted Oliver.”  The four-mile trail weaves through 25 acres of woods at Barren River Lake, adjacent to Port Oliver.  As the name suggests, Twisted Oliver snakes through the trees with switchbacks and sharp berms for a fast and fun ride.  

Photo by Reed Mattison

Photo by Reed Mattison

The Port Oliver Trail is KyMBA’s latest project. Though the trail was conceived in 2012, it’s seen delays as a larger trail, Brier Creek at Nolin Lake, took precedence. Now that all current trail projects are complete, KyMBA is ready to begin this one. Port Oliver is going to be a family-friendly trail, and it will act as a test trail for future projects. Should Port Oliver meet expectations, it would open up opportunities for longer, more technical trails in the park. 

KyMBA is responsible for three other major trails in south central Kentucky: Low Hollow Trail in Bowling Green, Brier Creek Trail at Nolin Lake State Park, and Big Hollow Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park. Big Hollow won “Best Gateway Trail” at the International Mountain Biking Association World Summit in 2014. It was a massive accomplishment for KyMBA and everyone involved. Now, KyMBA hopes to keep the success going with the addition of the Port Oliver Trail.  

Spearheaded by Dan Taylor, a Ranger at Barren River Lake State Park, the plan for the Port Oliver Trail is in full effect.  With significant help from the Army Corps of Engineers and an army of volunteers, five miles of trail has been cut and 1.8 miles of it are ready to ride as of February 25.  Two hundred twenty-five volunteer hours have been logged at the trail and it grows every weekend.

Photo by Reed Mattison

Photo by Reed Mattison

Saturday is always trail work day for KyMBA members and early spring weather in Bowling Green has propelled work forward. The forecast hovered around 55 degrees with a 60 percent chance of rain. The weather forecast kept away some of the regular trail warriors, but on Saturday a small group (including myself) hit the trails hard.  The crew stayed two hours longer than scheduled, as the rain held out. 

For more information on the Port Oliver Trail, trail work days and anything else about mountain biking in south central Kentucky, follow KyMBA on Facebook.