An unusual partnership in Shakopee will soon result in the metro area’s second mountain bike trail for high school competitions, while also providing a place for the public to enjoy the growing sport.
Officials broke ground Wednesday on the single-track-style course, and plan to begin construction in September. They hope to finish the year-round course by December.
The new 3.5-mile trail will consist of four loops through the trees and prairies of 111-acre Quarry Lake Park, on Shakopee’s east side. The trail will be to the south and east the lake, wrapping around Xcel’s Blue Lake power plant.
“What’s unique about this trail is it was designed with high school mountain biking in mind,” said Kyle Sobota, assistant coach of the Shakopee High School mountain bike team.
Project partners are the city of Shakopee, the Shakopee Public Schools, Xcel Energy and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), which provided a $15,000 grant.
“Every partner gains something out of it,” said Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars, who called it the “perfect public-private collaboration.”
The land, adjacent to its Blue Lake plant, is being leased for free to the city by Xcel Energy. It’s the first time Xcel has contributed to a mountain bike trail project, said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy in Minnesota and the Dakotas. The company already provides access to land near the Black Dog power plant in Burnsville for a walking and biking trail, and Xcel land is used for a dog park in St. Paul.
“This is a first across our system … and we’re really excited about it,” Clark said. “The topography of the land really lends itself well to it.”
No one would have thought of putting a trail next to a power plant 20 years ago, Mars said. He added that the trail provides visibility for Xcel, since it will be named for the company.
Shakopee will fund park amenities as well as a new access road on Quarry Lake’s west side that will give Xcel an alternative way to get to its plant, since the existing entrance is sometimes blocked by trains. Mars said the cost to the city should come in under $225,000.
The trail’s design is nearly final, Sobota said. There will be four loops of various lengths and difficulty levels. Features such as rock gardens may be added later so riders can practice various skills.
Shakopee High’s mountain bike team, which is entering its sixth season with 60 riders, needed a trail, Sobota said. The team had wanted to build a shorter trail on school district property, but that idea conflicted with other plans.
Mountain biking is a growing sport at the high school level, he said. The state league started in 2012 with 120 riders and now has 2,000.
The new trail is “very exciting,” Sobota said, “because it’s something that’s not in our community currently.”