The Papillion Times was at the Walnut Creek Trail grand opening on June 18, 2014.
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Jeff Schram has always loved off-road recreation.
But until last week, if he wanted to go mountain biking, he’s always needed to pack up his car and drive to a trail.
Now, the first phase of a mountain biking trail is nearly in his own backyard.
Schram, along with a local group, Trails Have Our Respect (THOR), spent nearly 10 months planning and building a mountain bike trail in Walnut Creek Recreation Area.
Dozens of cyclists of all ages turned out on June 18 to celebrate the completion of the new trail. A group of young riders were the first to get their wheels mudded up on the trail after hearing from Schram, THOR members and city officials.
“It’s been a pleasure making your park better,” Schram said to the group.
The trail, funded by THOR, was built by the group and will be maintained by the group.
Schram worked with city officials to plan the project.
“It’s a great addition to the area,” said Mike Cunningham, parks superintendent. “It gives our users another avenue.”
The trail starts 100 feet east of the northeast corner of the park’s dam.
The most convenient parking to access the trail is in the east parking lot off of 96th Street and Gold Coast Road, Cunningham said.
Schram was dedicated to the project, said Parks Director Tony Gowan and THOR President Roxzanne Feagan.
“He had a vision and he wanted it to happen,” Feagan said.
The City of Papillion is always looking to add new and cutting edge amenities to its parks, Gowan said.
“Jeff would not be denied on this project. This fits,” he said. “It’s another feather in Papillion’s cap.”
Schram and 25 other volunteers spent more than 165 hours building the trail.
Schram had some extra help from his son, Jake Schram, and Jake’s friend, James Moyle.
Jake and James designed and built a leg of the trail called “Whiplash.”
“They got away from the TV and got some fresh air,” Schram said.
This first phase of the trail is 2.4 miles long. In the fall, Schram said plans are in place to start extending it.
It’s designed for riders with some mountain biking experience. It opens up into prairie and takes cyclists around logs and trees, and over bridges.
“It keeps the trail interesting,” Feagan said.
THOR has built a number of trails in the area, including a mountain bike and equestrian trail at Swanson Park and Jewell Park, both in Bellevue.
“We really are about getting people outside,” Feagan said. “We build for bikers, runners, dog walkers and all of us.”
Schram wanted to use the opening of the trail as a way to give back to the community in a very specific sense, too. So he found John Jarrett, sponsor of Dakota Hamn, 13, in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Dakota was in dire need of a new bicycle, so Schram purchased and fixed up a bike for him.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Jarrett said. “There couldn’t be anything better for him.”
Dakota said he was happy and excited to try out the new bike.
“He was in need of a new bike and this was a great opportunity to do it,” Schram said.