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You might have run across a hidden gem just five minutes from downtown Bentonville. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve contains 17 miles of trails for all skill levels and is open to walkers, runners, nature lovers, and anyone searching for a quiet place within the city. The preserve opened in 2020 and was designed to join the outdoors with amenities offered throughout the preserve, like the outdoor micro-cafe run by Airship Coffee, the camping platforms, open-air pavilions, and a community fire pit. Now the preserve is offering a fun, unique program called Coler Kids to connect area youth with the outdoors and each other.
The Peel Compton Foundation is responsible for developing Coler Mountain Bike Preserve into what it is today. The foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 1991 and committed “to providing access to welcoming spaces and experiences for all visitors” in Northwest Arkansas. Their core mission is dedicated to connecting the community through nature, education, recreation and preservation. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve exemplifies that vision, but it’s not the only community space. The foundation is also responsible for Compton Gardens & Arboretum, Peel Museum & Botanical Garden and Osage Park. The Foundation is excited to offer programming, especially with the Coler Kids program beginning this fall in the preserve.
“Coler Kids is the idea that we can offer programs for the youth of the community to get them involved at Coler and nature at a young age to learn lifelong healthy lifestyles,” says Layne Hyatt, who is the Director of Programs at Peel Compton Foundation. “We believe if we engage them at a younger age we can connect them to nature and we do that through our mission of recreation, preservation and education.”
The new programs are fun and designed to meet kids wherever they are in their goals with nature. Coler Mountain Bike Preserve is primarily a series of mountain bike trails with varying levels, so Coler Kids offers a series of programs to get kids riding.
The Fundamental Kids Ride will take place November 13. This class is designed to help kids who know how to ride bikes, but might need extra instruction and encouragement. It isn’t aimed for a particular age, but is for kids who need a boost in confidence learning skills like turning, managing different terrains, and the fundamentals of mountain biking. Parents are encouraged to stay as well to help and cheer their children on. Coler Kids has partnered with First Security Bank and Pedal It Forward to create a low-cost class. If children need bikes to participate, Pedal It Forward will provide one to those who register for the class. Children can also receive a new bicycle helmet. Once registered, parents will receive a link to fill out a form for a bicycle or helmet.
For riders who are a little more confident (no training wheels) or for those younger riders on balance bikes, the Thunderdome Kids Event will let kids ride on dual mountain bike tracks for a fun outing. Thunderdome Trail is a dual slalom course at Coler that includes berms, rollers and jumps. The class will be a safe environment for kids to try out slalom-style riding. Kids ages 2 to 17 are all welcome to try their hand at the dual tracks. But riders must be able to balance and ride on uneven terrain without the use of training wheels. Kids have the opportunity to get bikes through Pedal It Forward through registration. Mountain bikes are not required for this course.
For a fun way to get moving and exercise outside, the Tai Chi and Qi Gong sports series are ongoing at the preserve. It focuses on breathing exercises, movement and meditation to connect you to nature and relieve stress. This series isn’t limited to children, but those who are able to practice are welcome. In fact, Layne Hyatt encourages families to sign up for programming so “they can get connected to nature together and spend quality time outdoors while learning new skills and having fun.”
Locals can support Coler Kids by getting youth involved in the programs or by volunteering to lead a program. Fall is a beautiful time to try something new outdoors, especially as a family.
“We want people to take advantage of the beautiful spaces right here in their community. Peel Compton and our spaces is a way to connect our community to Nature in an accessible way. We want everyone to feel welcome in our spaces. We want everyone to feel comfortable and that they have a space that they can use to connect in their own way to nature.”
Airship Coffee at Coler Mountain.
If you’re looking for fun ways to spend time with kids this fall, Coler Kids is a great new option. Peel Compton Foundation also maintains a slate of activities at each of their spaces for children and families. These include nature walks, plant workshops, yoga and even archery. Find out more about upcoming programs at the Peel Compton Foundation website and sign up for Coler Kids activities, enjoy the miles of trail in the preserve, and even stop for some fresh coffee in one of the most beautiful and newest outdoor spaces in Northwest Arkansas.
Photos courtesy of Peel Compton Foundation and used with permission.
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