In 2012, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation pitched a project that would literally transform the city’s landscape. The concept, Marshview Park, reimagined a plot of land sandwiched between several neighborhoods at Lake Rudee as a public park outfitted with multi-use trails, play areas, picnic shelters and disc golf. The Master Plan also envisioned tracks for an activity never before enjoyed in Virginia Beach–mountain biking.
“Virginia Beach is probably one of the flattest places I have ever been,” jokes Ethan Cason, Recreation Specialist II for the City of Virginia Beach’s Parks & Landscape Services. “Given the unique topography of Marshview Park though, we were excited about developing it into a mountain biking destination.”
Cason explains that the City of Virginia Beach acquired the 100-acre park through a land swap with the United States Navy roughly 10 years ago. Prior to the Navy’s assumption of the land, however, the property was zoned for private development. “Marshview Park was originally going to be developed just like the communities around it,” explains Cason. “Stormwater drains were dug out, but never used, so what was left over were these huge piles of soil, or berms as we call them in mountain biking terms, that now make for fun rollers and jumps.”
Cason adds that 70 to 80 percent of the trails at Marshview existed prior to the renovation; his team simply formalized them into trails better suited for mountain bikers by adding smooth turns and challenging terrain. Once completed, Marshview will boast roughly five miles of single- and double- track trails spanning three levels of difficulty.
The trails will also be outfitted with formal names such as Heron Point Loop and Creekside Trail, as well as official signanage mirroring the colors and symbols used by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. “The trails will also be numbered one through eight, with trails one and two being some of the most difficult. Riding the trails [in numerical order] will give riders the best feel for the park,” says Cason.
Marshview Park not only marks a new destination for local thrillseekers but represents the philanthropic nature of the Virginia Beach community. “This entire project and all of the labor involved has been completed entirely in-house and with the help of volunteers,” says Cason.
“To develop the trails, we partnered with the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association, a non-profit volunteer group that manages and maintains trail systems from New Kent County to the Southside, and other local groups like the Navy, churches, REI and the [Boy Scouts of America, Tidewater Council],” says Cason. “An Eagle Scout from Troop 12 fundraised for and installed the park’s first bike repair station. Members of Parks & Recreation’s VolunTrail Club also put countless hours of work into the project.”
Marshview Park isn’t exclusive to mountain bikers though. Every trail is multi-use that can be enjoyed by hikers, joggers, dog walkers and the like. The park’s proximity to residential areas and the Virginia Beach community did, after all, lend itself to leisurely activities prior to its official rebranding as a mountain bike trail system. “My hope is that people will no longer feel like they have to go hours away to get a true outdoor experience aside from the beach,” says Cason.
The official grand opening of Marshview Park is slated for this fall.
For more information, visit VBGov.com.