Kessler Mountain Trails
What is this project?
The City of Fayetteville purchased Kessler Mountain, an approximately 387-acre upland forest, for public outdoor recreational use. This land is immediately adjacent to the Kessler Mountain Regional Park and this will serve as public access to the mountain trails.
The City commissioned Progressive Trail Design LLC, a local trails design, planning, and construction company, partnered with Alta Planning and Design and Ozark Ecological Restoration, to prepare a trails master plan for Kessler Mountain. This resulted in the Kessler Mountain Trails Master Plan which established recommendations for existing trail improvements and new trail construction. A PDF of this plan can be viewed or downloaded from the link below.
Once the master plan was completed, Parks and Recreation set about to implement the plan. A budget was assembled and, in order to maximize development opportunities, grant funding was targeted. After a successful award from the Walton Family Foundation, a "Request for Proposals" was advertised and circulated in order to find a contractor with the skills and experience necessary to construct sustainable trails in an environmentally sensitive area. After proposals were received, a selection committee reviewed the information and chose Progressive Trail Design (PTD) as the principal contractor.
Why is this project important?
Kessler Mountain was identified by multiple organizations and individuals as a premier natural area of the region and the state that needed to be preserved and available for public recreation. This property was established as a nature preserve and a conservation easement was entered into with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust (NWALT). NWALT will serve as a valuable partner to the City with emphasis on the protection of the mountain's environment, wildlife, and plant communities. This partnership in management, coupled with an adjacent developed active recreational park, will provide the people of Fayetteville and surrounding areas unparalleled experience in outdoor recreation, education, observation and appreciation. Fayetteville residents and visitors are already enjoying the almost seven miles of existing nature trail accessible from the adjacent Regional Park, which has recently opened to its first phase development.
What is the current status?
The contractor will soon begin on-the-ground design and marking of a new 3.5-mile shared use, natural surface trail that will be open to foot and mountain bicycle traffic. This new trail will incorporate portions of the Lower Bluff Trail, the Beginner Loop, and the East Bluff Trail as shown in the master plan. It will be constructed primarily below the mountain's bluff line, making it much more accessible to the developed park. In addition, it will provide improved access to the top of the bluff on both the north and south ends of the park.
The contractor will also be establishing re-routes which are necessary for resource protection along portions of the existing trails, as identified in the master plan. This is also to include re-routing portions of the existing trails that extend beyond the City's property boundaries. Once these new routes are reviewed and approved, their construction will begin.
Another component of the project will include improved directional, informational, and educational signs at the trailhead access points and at key locations along the trails.
The contractor will begin work immediately and the project is expected to be completed by or before the end of September, 2017.