Volunteers gather one Sunday a month to maintain the biking and hiking trails in Devou Park. (Photo provided by Lee Ransdell.)
Editor's Note - As you know, due to the concerns over COVID-19, all City appointed boards, committees, panels, and task forces are postponed for the time being. This includes the previously advertised public meeting to discuss a proposed application to the Recreational Trails grant program to complete backcountry trails in Devou Park.
To ensure the public has an opportunity to comment on this proposed project and grant application, the City has set up an online portal through which residents can review the project plans and make a comment if they so choose. To access that portal please click the following link HERE. Comments will be accepted through April 1, 2020.
Meeting on March 18 seeks input on application
COVINGTON, Ky. - With names like Gnarnia, Incinerator, Devil’s Backbone, and Train Surfer, the hiking and biking trails meandering through Covington’s Devou Park snake up and down hills and zigzag through the woods, some more strenuous to trek than others.
More than 10 miles of trails have been carved out of Devou’s 700-plus-acre oasis of green since 2008, some by professional trail builders, others by volunteers armed with shovels, mattocks, and lopping shears.
Mountain bikers and hikers may gain about 3 more miles of trails in the park.
The City of Covington will soon apply for a federal grant it hopes will fund the completion of the trail development section of the 2008 Devou Park Master Plan, using private donations as the required local match and relying on the passion and energy of regional trail advocates to push the project along.
“With Devou’s trails we have a great product - now we just want to make it better,” said Lee Ransdell, one of the lead trail stewards in what is called the Devou Park Trails Collective. “And by attracting more people to the trails, we believe we can also encourage more use of other features in Devou, such as the golf course, Behringer-Crawford Museum, and the bike rentals.”
The collective - a loosely organized group founded by Covington resident Chad Irey more than a decade ago - has long been the force behind Devou’s trails and has a formal legal agreement with the City to maintain them. One Sunday morning a month, volunteers gather to do maintenance work on the multi-use dirt paths, usually ending the morning sweaty, muddy, and weary.
The collective operates under the umbrella of CORA (or Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance), a group of dedicated mountain bikers who banded together in 1996 to advocate for and build sustainable trail systems in the region. Devou’s trails are one of a dozen sets of trails that CORA maintains.
“Devou’s trails are popular - probably the most used of any that CORA oversees,” Ransdell said.
CORA raised $31,000 at its Party in the Park fund-raiser in spring 2019 for Devou Park. That money has been set aside to be used as the local match for the federal Recreational Trails grant the City will seek from the state Department for Local Government, said Meganne Robinson, Covington's grant writer.
The application is due May 1.
On Wednesday, March 18, the City’s Parks & Recreation Division will hold a public meeting to invite input on the grant application.
The meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Devou Golf and Event Center at 1201 Park Drive in Covington. It occurs in conjunction with the regular meeting of the Devou Park Advisory Committee.
Comments can also be sent by April 1 to:
Recreational Trails Program
Department for Local Government
1024 Capital Center Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601
City of Covington
Attn: Meganne Robinson
20 West Pike St.
Covington, KY 41011
The City will request $120,000 from the federal program, which with the local match would provide $150,000 to design and build the Devou trail project. Plans are to hire a professional firm to build the natural surface trails, and construction would likely start in mid-2021, Ransdell said.
The proposed project has several elements:
- A trail to the Civil War-era military fortification site called Battery Bates, with signs, fencing, and benches. The battery - which is mostly unrecognizable to the untrained eye - consists of rifle pits dug into the ground and the remnants of an earthen wall. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.
- A trail that connects the Glengarry subdivision in Fort Wright to the trail system in Devou’s “back country” area (west of Sleepy Hollow Road).
- Expansion of the John Volz Trail east of Devou Drive near the Drees Pavilion.
- Creation of the East Entrance Connector Trail, a connection leading from the Drees overlook to Western Avenue. It will connect the park to the Riverfront Commons Trail being built along the Ohio River.
- Creation of a “skills area” where mountain bike beginners can develop riding skills and organized classes can be held.
Some 330 people responded to an online survey of visitors to Devou’s trails released in 2018. Visitors were split between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati with a few from as far away as Florida, Michigan, and Washington D.C. Altogether, respondees reported making over 35,000 visits to the Devou trails in the previous year, and the economic impact of those visits was projected to be $1.8 million, according to the report prepared by the Devou Good Project.
Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said the Devou Good report reiterated the importance of the park and its trail system.
“Obviously these trails provide health and environmental benefits,” Smith said. “But in addition to supporting the region’s quality of life, they also support its economy.”
Covington Parks & Rec Manager Rosie Santos said the City will be offering a guided hiking series on May 2, June 6, and July 11 in order to highlight the trails.
“There are many ways to experience Devou Park,” she said. “We encourage users to explore and discover all the park has to offer.”
More information will be available on the Facebook page @CovingtonParksRec.
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