Photo courtesy of Lee Co. Government.

The story of San Lee Park in Sanford, NC is a success story that showcases what a supportive land manager, governmental organizations and local advocacy can do with a difficult situation. We could not be more proud of how our help with a willing land manager turned a dire situation into an example that other government organizations could follow.

As with many trail systems, the trails at San Lee Park saw an explosion of riders during the rise of COVID. A trail system which at the time had a gravity area built by a local who volunteered their time and efforts in the park. Due to the nature of these trails, progression was difficult to come by. New riders were finding themselves over their heads quickly, leading to a number of injuries. As the injuries became more common the land manager, Lee County, decided something had to be done and that the trails needed to be closed.

Like many trails before, the story of San Lee Park could have stopped there. The county government could have left the trails closed indefinitely, but in this instance they decided to take a different approach. They decided to invest in the park, bring in a professional to assess the trails, and rely on a group of local for insight on the project.

Out of adversity a new SORBA chapter formed to help tackle these issues head on and Back To Dirt Conservancy was formed. While the county has been the driving force behind renovations at San Lee Park, BTD has been fully supportive of the changes and has worked with the county as a consultant on the project.

SORBA was directly involved with the project as a consulting organization. Towards the beginning of the project, SORBA reached out to Lee County officials with advice on how to proceed with the project. Since the trails are meant to be gravity fueled, technical trails SORBA strongly suggested the county reach out to a professional trail builder to construct the new trail system. Those conversations were taken to heart and Lee County hired a professional trail builder to begin work on the facelift in summer of 2021.

Fast forward 8 months and the trails are now reopened. All gravity lines have been reworked by professional trail builders, Black Diamond Designs, and progression is the name of the game. The new trails range from a very approachable green gravity trail to a big hit double black diamond trail. Signage has been placed throughout the park, reminding riders to use their best judgement and ride the trails in progression to make sure their skills match what is required.

We couldn’t be more proud of this project and all the organizations involved. It’s incredible to see a government organization that is willing to invest actual dollars into their community to correct an issue. We are thankful for all the work that was put in by the Lee Co. Government, Back To Dirt Conservancy and the professional trail builders to create an amazing riding experience. Great job team!