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Central Iowa mountain bikers soon will be zooming through the Ewing Park forest at speeds approaching 20 mph.

The Central Iowa Trail Association plans to build 6,500 feet of downhill trails at the Des Moines park, with berms, rollers and pumps for two-wheeled adventurers. The group raised $27,000 for the project, which was approved Monday night by the Des Moines City Council. The city will not spend any money on the off-road trails.

The nonprofit trail association hopes to complete construction this fall. The group works with municipal and private landowners to design, build and maintain trails for off-road biking and running. Its volunteers maintain trails at Greenwood Park in Des Moines, Summerset State Park in Carlisle and along the Des Moines River near Johnston.

But the downhill course at Ewing Park, 5300 Indianola Road,will be the first of its kind in central Iowa.

"These are fun, flowy trails that haven’t been adopted very much in the Midwest," said John Millanes, the association's lead trail steward for Ewing Park. He likened them to skiing or snowboarding trails.

Three intersecting routes will run between Ewing Park's BMX bike track and the Ashley Okland Star Playground.

"Yeah, we’re abunch of mountain bikers, but our goal is to build a trail everyone can enjoy," Millanes said.

The group is working with a Colorado-based construction company called Singletrack Trails Inc. that has developed more than two dozens trails in Colorado and Wyoming as well as courses in Florida, Delaware and Tennessee.

"This is alearning experience for us and a trial experience for the builder. Though they’ve built stuff in (other places), our soils are so different,so they don’t know how it’s going to go out here," Millanes said.

Mountain biking is growing in Des Moines, said Jen Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the city's parks and recreation department.

"We’re always looking for ways to not only attract new people to the parks system but retain them and provide different amenities," Fletcher said. "Thefact that we can put in an amenity specifically targeted for an audience like this is very exciting."

The city will continue to own the land, but Central Iowa Trail Association will maintain the track.

"These trails take a good amount of upkeep. Butwe’re lucky enough to have a great core of volunteers," Millanes said.

The money for the project marks the single largest investment the group has made in a mountain biking trail. It received donations and grants from sponsors such as REI and Rasmussen Bike Shop, and Prairie Meadows.

The mountain bike course is the latest addition to the south-side park, which already boasts a BMX course, the city's only soap box derby track and alilac arboretum.

In February, the city announced plans to adda high ropes adventure course after Ben Page, the city's parks and recreation director, was approached by a United Kingdom-based company interested in expanding to Des Moines.The city hoped to attract companies interested in building and maintaining the tree-top, zip line course. But it didn't receive any bids.

"It's really abummer because we were very excited about getting that up and off the ground," Fletcher said.

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