Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians have a new trail in Centennial Park, and next year the Carson Senators mountain bike team will have a place to race, thanks to former student Connor McRae.
The Wild Horse Trail is a new three-quarter mile trail accessible from the softball fields’ east parking lot. It hooks up to an existing trail, creating a 1.5-mile loop ideally suited for mountain bike racing.
McRae started work on it two years ago, taking it on as his senior class project at Carson High School.
“I was just really exuberant about building trails,” said McRae, who’s now a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno, studying civil engineering and hydrology.
His interest started when, early in high school, he worked with Muscle Powered on the Ash to Kings Canyon trail.
So he spoke with Muscle Powered’s Jeff Potter, who suggested Centennial Park needed more trails.
“I thought that would be super cool,” said McRae.
The first thing he did was map it out.
“I determined an alignment by wandering around and finding parts I thought would be cool to go through, points of interest,” McRae said.
He used a clinometer, an instrument for measuring slope, to make sure it wasn’t too steep or too shallow.
“That took about 40 hours,” he said.
At the same time, he worked with the city to get the needed support and approval to build it.
Gregg Berggren, trails coordinator, Parks, Recreation and Open Space, worked with the Bureau of Land Management to amend the city’s lease to include recreational trails.
And a cultural survey was required and completed, according to Potter.
“We got the green light and started building in March,” said McRae, nearly a year after he graduated Carson High. “It started off with Jeff and myself constructing some rock benches.”
Soon enough, several more Muscle Powered volunteers joined in, and worked through April excavating rocks and filling in holes.
Work picked up again at the end of August and the trail was completed by mid-October.
A total of 26 volunteers helped build it, said Potter.
“We found it humorous because it was Connor’s senior project and most of the people working on it were retired,” he said.
The city is working on signage for the trail and next fall the Carson Senators can use it to compete against teams from Incline Village, Placerville, Reno, and Truckee, during the short mountain bike racing season.
“It’s been fantastic working with Connor on this project. We couldn’t do it without all the volunteers and Parks & Rec and the Board of Supervisors,” said Potter. “We’re very lucky to have those people on our side.”
And what’s next for McRae?
He works summers and when he can during the school year for Sierra Trails Works in Reno building trails.
“I volunteer as much as I can with Muscle Powered,” he said.
And he’s thinking about construction of a 10-15 mile trail that would connect trails in Centennial Park to McClellan Peak in north Carson City, a link Muscle Powered would like to make and is on the city’s trails master plan.