Black Elk-Neihardt Park bike trail plan

View from southwest ridge of Black Elk-Neihardt Park toward the shelter, which can be in the distance at center. Blair resident Brent Fullmer wants to create mountain bike trails throughout the park.

Black Elk-Neihardt Park is one of the most picturesque places in Blair.

The city's highest point overlooks Blair and the Missouri River valley. On a clear day, one can see far into Iowa.

The park was established in 1975, a vision of former Dana College art professor F.W. “Bill” Thomsen. It's Thomsen's artwork — the newly restored Tower of the Four Winds — that sits at the pinnacle of this park.

While there are those who appreciate the park for all its beauty, it's unclear how many visitors the place actually receives.

But one resident's plan could make Black Elk-Neihardt Park a destination for cycling enthusiasts, hikers and runners.

Brent Fullmer presented a proposal last week to the Blair Park Board that would create a 3.2-mile long natural surface mountain bike trail throughout the park. The trail would be built in four sections, including through some of the park's wooded and more secluded areas.

Fullmer plans to work with Trails Have Our Respect (THOR), which has built more than 70 miles of trails in the Omaha metro area.

Concerns the trail could potentially ruin the prairie in park should be quelled as a representative from THOR said it would help preserve it and allow more people to enjoy it.

Adding another amenity to the city will only increase the attractiveness of the community.

Drawing more people to one of the city's hidden gems should be beneficial and possibly offer a boost to Blair's economy. If cyclists choose to travel the trail through Black Elk-Neihardt Park, they may also choose to stop at one of the many restaurants, shops or other attractions in the city.

Parks are an important part of any community and Blair has some of the best around. So why not make one more desirable that would encourage residents and visitors to use them more?

The Blair Park Board has not yet made a recommendation to the Blair City Council, but this is one proposal that should be given the green light.

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