Biking challenge in Lincoln Parish Park
Louisiana may seem an unlikely place for mountain biking, but Lincoln Parish Park is turning Louisiana's piney hills into a Mecca for the sport.
By Andrew Collins
Professional biking legend Ned Overand has called the adrenaline-pumping, 10-mile loop at 260-acre Lincoln Parish Park "one of the most challenging trails" he's ever competed on, and Mountain Bike Action Magazine has ranked it as among the nation's top venues.
Ardent mountain biker James Ramsaur, an experienced racer who had created trails in other parts of the country, designed the Lincoln trail in 1992, shortly after the park opened. He'd been working at a bike shop in Ruston at the time. "We were selling all these mountain bikes," he recalls, "but there weren't a whole lot of places in the area to ride them. So I approached the park director about creating a trail here, and he was extremely receptive to it." With plenty of assistance from members of the cycling team at nearby Louisiana Tech University, Ramsaur built the trail.
By 1997, when the park hosted the first XTERRA Triathlon, Lincoln Parish Park had become a renowned mountain-biking destination. The park continues to host a popular competitive race, the Piney Hills Classic, each October. But year-round Lincoln Parish Park is an exceptional venue for mountain bikers of all skill levels. In addition to the celebrated 10-mile advanced trail that wends its way around the park, there's a 4-mile beginner track that's ideal for novices.
The main trail is mostly single-track, but with a number of areas for passing, and even experts have their work cut out for them along here. "We don't have any long, sustained climbs, but it's constantly up and down on the main trail," says Ramsaur. "Mountain biking is humbling, and this trail definitely keeps you humble you don't really ever get a break."
Though the park offers some fairly technical terrain, both trails are carefully signed to show degree of difficulty along every section and to help bikers see exactly where they're headed. If you're up for a shorter run, you can always turn back before completing the entire loop; the park's paved interior road intersects with the trail in four different places, so you're never too far from the parking area.
Here's the biggest surprise to those not expecting to find top-rated mountain biking in this part of the world: There are actually seven trails between Ruston and Shreveport, all within striking distance of Interstate 20. Some other great picks include Eddie D. Jones Park near Shreveport and Bodcau Recreational Area near Bossier City.
Ramsaur sees Lincoln Parish Park and the other trails in northern Louisiana as terrific options for avid visitors from cooler climes. "Mountain bikers up north can come down and enjoy the trails in winter, maybe do some biking in Ruston or Shreveport while visiting Louisiana during Mardi Gras or over Spring Break."
Located northeast of downtown Ruston and I-20, Lincoln Parish Park also has overnight tent and RV camping, and offers a slew of other outdoor recreational activities, including fishing and hiking
See BikeLouisiana.com for details of wide-ranging biking challenges located throughout the state.