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WILMINGTON — When the snow melts and the warm weather rolls into Wilmington, most people associate this town with the West Branch of the AuSable River and trout fishing.

But, in recent years, a collection of people have been working to develop another summer sport and an added identity for the town: one as a mountain biking destination.

Since the adoption of the Wilmington Wild Forest Unit Management Plan in October 2005, it has been the state’s plan to create two mountain biking networks: The Flume and the Beaver Brook Tract.

While the Beaver Brook Tract off of Hardy Road is still considered the future project, The Flume network of trails is essentially complete, which is a slightly historic event. That’s because The Flume is the first mountain bike trail network on Adirondack Forest Preserve lands to be proposed and approved through the unit management planning process, according to state Department of Environmental spokesman Dave Winchell.

The Flume is named after the famous fishing and swimming hole on the West Branch of the AuSable River and shares the same parking lot off of state Route 86.

The trail system itself is six miles in length and connects with Whiteface near the Kid’s Campus. The Flume consists of what was once about four miles of old logging roads and two miles of herd paths, both of which have historically been used by mountain bikers.

For the most part, this network is known by word of mouth. It hasn’t appeared in guidebooks and hasn’t been heavily marketed by businesses.

“They are kind of below the radar,” said Bert Yost, who owns the Wilkommen Hof Bed & Breakfast in Wilmington and is a member of the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers, an organization that was instrumental in working with the DEC through the UMP process and afterward to develop these trails.

Having trails specifically designed for mountain biking is important to members of that sport because hiking trails are designed differently. Plus, some areas — such as Forest Preserve designated as Wilderness — don’t allow mountain biking, at all.

“A lot of trails around here are suitable to mountain biking,” said DEC Forester Rob Daley, who is heading the project. “It’s kind of a different experience.”

One main difference is that hiking trails are designed with providing the user with a pathway to a destination, such as a mountaintop or body of water. Biking trails are often different.

“Bikers really want to enjoy the trail itself and how it travels over the landscape,” said Matt McNamara, trails crew coordinator for the Adirondack Mountain Club, which has led volunteer days at The Flume in recent years.

But that doesn’t mean hikers, nordic skiers and snowshoers can’t use the trails. McNamara noted that, “Good mountain bike trails are good for a number of users.”

Yost thinks the development of this biking network and others in the area could make WIlmington a mountain biking destination. He’s particularly excited about one future multi-use trail that would link The Flume Network with the Whiteface Memorial Highway and The North Pole.

“It think it’s going to be instant popularity (for Wilmington),” Yost said.

Note: It is recommended that mountain bikers stay off the

trails until they have sufficiently dried out, which will likely

happen sometime in late May.