Six of the 50 wooden bike weirs in the Sope Creek Unit, which tell bicyclists which trails they aren’t allowed to ride on, have been removed.
“People have been pulling them up out of the ground and kind of throwing them off to the side,” said park Superintendent Patty Wissinger.
The weirs were added to help mountain bikers navigate the new trails, which will expand the amount of mountain biking trails at Sope Creek to 6.7 miles from its current 2.1 miles. The new trails are expected to officially open to mountain bikers April 5.
A grant from the nonprofit National Park Foundation covered $70,000 of the trails’ $80,000 cost, while the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and National Park Service each paid $5,000.
Dave Thomas, the park’s volunteer coordinator, said maintenance staff at the park put the signs together and a group of about 20 volunteers worked on installing them.
“It took some time and effort just to make these signs, and, obviously, it took time and effort to put them together,” he said. “That’s what’s frustrating.”
While the park doesn’t have any suspects, Thomas said it could have been someone not happy about the new trails.
“There are so many different uses out there, what happens is anytime there is any change, people seem to resist it,” he said.
Thomas said the park is working to replace the signs in time for the opening of the new trails. They are taking extra precautions, including using an entire bag of concrete instead of a half bag to secure each sign.
The park is also installing more signs related to the new trails, including maps and directional signs that require mountain bikers to observe one-way travel on the trail loop. Wissinger said this allows hikers to walk in the opposite direction, making the trails safer.
Thomas said members of the National Parks Service’s Volunteers in Parks program are also going through training so they can help hikers and bicyclists when the trails open.
“They are living sign posts,” he said.
Ones who, presumably, won’t be so easy to vandalize.