The Palmetto State is Getting a Bike Park with Shuttle Service

Bike parks continue to pop up in the southeastern part of the United States. Unlike the wheelchair accessible bike parks we see throughout the western part of the nation, these parks offer shuttles, pedals, or both. In 2020, Kanuga laughs opening just outside of Hendersonville, North Carolina, later in 2022 Jarrod’s place appeared in northwest Georgia and BHM laughs debuted in Alabama.

Many of these parks have the unique distinction of being operational year-round and were inspired by Windrock Bike Park, which Sean Leader, a recent guest on the Singletracks Podcast, founded. Leader now has a company, Southern Gravity, that builds vehicles and trailers for bike parks.

2024 will see a new shuttle access bike park, this time in South Carolina, located between Charlotte and Columbia. And, coincidentally, Leader will be involved in some way. “Southern Gravity will be doing our shuttle vehicles,” Jason Murphy, a development partner at Rattlesnake Bike Park, told us.

Rattlesnake Bike Park plans to be operational by the fall of this year. We contacted Murphy to learn the story behind Rattlesnake and how the bike park hopes to provide a different style of mountain biking to the area.

Begin

A lot has changed since Murphy started riding mountain bikes during his college days in the late 80s. While he loved the sport, mountain biking represented a hobby for Murphy, not something he fully immersed himself in. . That was until Murphy moved to North Carolina and went to check out the tracks at the White water center.

“I hadn’t had a new bike since 1995,” Murphy told us. “So I went out, got a new bike, started riding, and I really like it.” However, the trails in the Whitewater Center were mainly focused on the country.

In fact, Murphy found that many of the trails in the area surrounding Charlotte were leaning toward XC. And while he was settling in and rediscovering the love of mountain biking on his local pedal trails, he was also hearing about bike parks popping up. Unlike the trails at the Whitewater Center, which one could argue has many “bike park” qualities, these bike parks were centered downhill.

“The company I work with does some outdoor recreation stuff,” Murphy said. I started reading about a couple of shuttle bike parks – Howler, Jarrod’s Place and Rock Creek – all great places.

Reading turned to riding and Murphy fell in love with the gravity-oriented side of mountain biking. These experiments planted the seeds, and Murphy wondered why there wasn’t something like this in the Charlotte area.

As he continued to consider a shuttle access bike park in his area, Murphy began to consider the “where” aspect. Fortunately, there was a plot of land not too far from Charlotte that he felt had potential. Therefore, he pitched the idea to business partners, and in 2022, Rattlesnake Bike Park officially acquired a certain area.

“We found land and thought about what we could use in the outdoor recreation space. I visited a few of these [bike parks] and he had the time of my life, and he thought, ‘We can do this,'” Murphy said.

Shortly after the purchase, Murphy began looking for trail builders and found Peter Mills and his company, Elevated Trail Design. If the name “Elevated Trail Design” sounds familiar, that’s because it is, since they have worked on many projects in North Carolina and other states. Perhaps most notable was his work on Berm Park, the development of mountain bike YouTuber Seth Alvo.

“We connected with [Mills] and his team at Elevated Trail Design,” explained Murphy. “I can’t say enough good things about them. Once we got it on board, it just crystallized very quickly.” Elevated Trail Design builds all the trails at Rattlesnake Bike Park, working with the natural features of the land to provide a good mix of hand-built and machine-built trails. .

The trails won’t be the only ones at Rattlesnake Bike Park, as the park offers other amenities. Murphy described the park as “upside down.” Unlike other bike parks, the services and different offers will not be the first thing you encounter after parking. Instead, they will be on top.

“We have a spectacular view from the top, being one of the highest points in the county,” Murphy told us. There’s a 25-mile view from the top.” Rattlesnake plans to have a permanent food truck at the top of its land, serving beer, wine and seltzer. There are plans for a bike shop with a observation platform at the top, which provides a place to have lunch or have a beer between turns. If the deck is crowded, firepits and additional seats will also be available – ground level, of course.

Halfway up the mountain will be several campsites, both for tents and small RVs or vans. Many campsites will have trails running nearby. For now, Murphy has 20 tent sites and 10 RV sites planned. However, the plans are subject to change, and there could be more or less spots depending on the need.

The amenities at the top of Rattlesnake Bike Park aren’t just open to mountain bikers. “We’re going to have a riderless van. So if mom and dad are bringing the kids and the kids want to ride, but the parents just want to stay put, they can get a riderless pass,” Murphy explained.

If all goes according to plan, Rattlesnake Bike Park hopes to open in the last two weeks of October 2024. This opening date applies not only to the trails, but also to the food cart, the campsites, and all the other amenities that Rattlesnake offers. Murphy has his fingers crossed that the weather, crew, and construction plans all cooperate.

The trails at Rattlesnake Bike Park

Mountain biking is alive and well in places like Charlotte and Columbia. However, there is an absence of specific routes for the descent. Yes, you can find some decent descent when you get into the mountains, but shuttle access bike parks are few and far between. Rattlesnake Bike Park brings park access within an hour’s drive of metropolitan areas.

From the beginning, Murphy and the Rattlesnake team wanted to create trails that encouraged proper progression, working with Elevate Trail Design for a full year before breaking ground.

“We have enough variety that someone in their first day on a mountain bike, to someone who is training for professional races is going to have. [a trail] they really like it here,” Murphy said.

Rattlesnake Bike Park will not have inconsistent and drastic jumps from track to track in terms of progression, but appropriate steps. “If you’re a solid, intermediate rider, you should be able to challenge yourself on the easiest black diamond we have without fearing for your life,” Murphy explained.

Fourteen trails will be running on opening day, with ten more already planned on the 275-acre Rattlesnake Bike Park. The trails will vary in difficulty and suit different riding styles, with both machine flow and hand-built technology. About half of Rattlesnake’s surface will be in use, with much more room for future trails.

Depending on where they plan to funnel the tracks for the shuttle pick-up, Murphy anticipates a little more than 350 feet of descent. They anticipated a bottom-to-top shuttle time of about four minutes. With the longest route being about three-quarters of a mile, the wait for the shuttle should be minimal, if any.

Interstate 77 connects Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. Rattlesnake Bike Park is about a mile off the interstate in Fairfield County, a rural area between the two major cities.

“Fairfield County used to have thriving mill towns,” Murphy told us. “As in many places in the country, those mills went out of business or moved. It caused a real economic strain in the area.”

Rattlesnake Bike Park has the potential to help the surrounding communities. Murphy thinks coming to the area could boost hotels, gas stations, local stores and restaurants. It might be a different industry than the area is used to, but it would be an economic boost.

“It’s a beautiful part of the country, and there are great people here,” Murphy said. “Everyone has been super welcoming and friendly and excited about this project.”

Keep an eye out for updates on Rattlesnake Bike Park as summer winds down and fall approaches. We will do our best to inform readers about official dates, fees and schedules.
For now, you can follow along The Rattlesnake Bike Park Instagram account to see the progress.

3,106 thoughts on “The Palmetto State is Getting a Bike Park with Shuttle Service”

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