History of the Itusi Trail
June 2001: First Flight Bicycles/Crossroads Cycling Club begins discussions with Jud Burns, then superintendent of Lake Norman State Park, about the possibility of constructing bike trails in the park. This begins the long process of balancing the desires of the riders with the needs of the park. There were no mountain bike trails in the state park system at this time.
August 2001: Layout of the proposed trail begins. (Approximately 500 man-hours were spent on the design of the first two phases of the Itusi Trail)
February 2002: The State Trails coordinators inspect the proposed layout.
September 2002: Final approval of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to construct the trail.
October 19, 2002: Trail construction begins!
December 2002: Major ice storm closes the park and delays trail building.
January 2003: Begin construction of the Hicks Creek Loop
March 2003: Begin construction of the Hicks Creek Loop bridge.
March 2003: The process of naming the trail begins and we contact the Catawba Indians cultural center for possibilities. The word Itusi is Catawba for hawk and has a nice ring. The approval process begins.
March 19, 2003: Charlotte Observer runs a story, with pictures, about the trail project.
May 2, 2003: IMBA Trail Care Crew makes an afternoon visit.
May 2003: Information kiosk is erected as an Eagle Scout project.
June 25, 2003: The trail is inspected and approved and can open to the public after a short "punch list" of repairs is completed. One of the inspectors comments that: "We now have a new standard for trails in NC State Parks".
July 18, 2003: Phase I is officially opened to the public (4.25 miles). Phase I volunteer hours for construction: 2,103
September 14, 2003: Grand opening celebration and kick-off of the Norwood Creek Loop construction. Channel 9 News covers the opening along with several newspapers and sports magazines.
September 18, 2003: We receive the IMBA/Clif Bar grant.
October 2003: Construction begins on the Norwood Creek Loop (2.5 miles). Casey Rhinehart is promoted to park superintendent.
November 2003: Volunteer-only night ride series begins.
December 2003: Awarded an IMBA/REI trail building tool kit.
May 24, 2004: Norwood Creek Loop is opened to the public (6.75 miles now open)
September 2004: Trail temporarily closed due to hurricane Ivan.
October 3, 2004: Corridor flagging is completed for the Monbo Loop (6.25 miles).
October 20, 2004: Construction begins on the Monbo Loop.
January 23-25, 2005: IMBA Trail Care Crew full visit and trail building clinics.
January 28, 2005: Lake Norman Times article.
May 2005: Stop trail building and begin the summer maintenance program for the existing trail.
August 2005: Begin work on our second MOA to include construction of an unnamed Phase IV that will boast more challenging trail features.
September 17, 2005: Resume construction of the Monbo Loop.
December 2006: We use a Duke Energy $1,000 grant to rent a Bobcat mini skid steer for a month to speed up construction
January 26, 2006: Receive a $15,000 Lowes Home Improvement grant to purchase a Ditch Witch SK300.
May 2006: Purchased $5,000 worth of hand tools with an Adopt-A-Trail grant.
June 2006: Stop trail building and begin the summer maintenance program for the existing trails. The Ditch Witch proves to be invaluable for maintenance.
September 2006: Resume construction of the Monbo Loop (6.25 miles). Approximately 4.5 miles are finished. Eagle Scout puts up trail blazes for his Eagle project.
November 2006: Receive notice that we are being awarded $20,000 from Duke Energy to purchase a Bobcat 316 mini-excavator.
March 28, 2007: The new Monbo Loop officially opens to the public giving us 13 miles of trail.
October, 2008: Final approval is given to the new Phase IV trail. This trail will be approximately 7 miles long and will be bordered by Lake Norman, State Park Rd. and Wildlife Rd.
December 2008: The Tarheel Trailblazers approve spending $10,000 to pay for mechanized corridor clearing on Phase IV. On the 13th, the Trailblazers sponsor a trail work day which results in about 40 trail workers. Approximately one mile of machine built trail is hand finished.
May 2009: Bob Karriker runs over his leg with the Ditch Witch while building trail at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. Since Bob is the lead mechanized trail builder, this brings construction of Phase IV to a halt.
May 2009: Lake Norman State Park hosts the initial meeting of the North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance. The goal is to get more trails in NC parks and the Itusi Trail is held up as an example of how to make it happen.
June 2009: Laurel Loop becomes the official name for Phase IV and signs are ordered.
December 2009: MOA for the unnamed Phase V is submitted to the State Park system. Layout work continues on Phase IV B
January 2010: The Laurel Loop "A" opens to the public on January 2nd. The planned January 1st "grand opening" is delayed until the spring due to inclement weather. Laurel Loop "B" is flagged and ready to begin construction. This section will add an additional 4.25 miles.
January 2010: Applied for $75,000 RTP grant which would finish Phase V in 2 years.
August 2010: Received a $10,000 REI grant to help with construction of Phase IV.
September 2010: Awarded a $75,000 RTP grant to build 11.5 miles of new trail. This will include approximately 4 miles to finish the Laurel Loop plus 8+ miles of new trail in the 249 acres between Morrison Road and Wildlife Road. The grant window is 2 years which will result in 30 miles of singletrack trail by the end of 2013!
October 2010: Received the final approved MOA for Phase V. The flagged trail alignment from the far fire road entrance of Laurel Loop up to the proposed stream crossing is ready for construction.
November 2010: Ground is broken for Phase V.
November 18-21, 2010: IMBA Trail Care Crew visit. The Itusi Trail receives its second TCC visit. 55 volunteers!
March 25-27, 2011: Casey Rhinehart (LNSP Superintendent) and Jeff Archer (First Flight Bicycles) make a presentation at the SORBA Southern Conference, in Brevard, under the heading of "success stories".
April, 2011: Large storms knocks down a large number of trees and takes power and phone service from the park.
May, 2011: Seth Archer, Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 171, places large red Rescue Markers on the existing trail. Each sign marks a unique spot on the trail and can be used by park staff to locate lost or injured trail users.
September 14, 2011: Laurel Loop extension opens, completing the 9.75 mile Laurel Loop.
December, 2011: Recap of the 2011 trail work at the Itusi Trail:
47,409 feet of trail cut, 25,230' of Laurel Loop and 22,179' of Wildlife
636 machine hours, 182 design hours, 722 machine hours
1,799 volunteer hours
3,339 total hours AT THE TRAIL, does not include the hours spend writing grants, sending emails, press releases and all the other behind-the-scenes stuff that happens almost every day.
Equivalent of one person working 40 hours a week for a year and a half!
May 19, 2012: Sean Endres, Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 171, constructs a changing booth and places it in the trailhead parking lot. No more changing in the car or Part-a-Potty!
June 2, 2012: National Trails Day brings out 65 volunteers to perform trail maintenance at the trail followed by lunch provided by REI.
August 10-12, 2012: First Southern Spokes festival is held at the Itusi Trail. The festival includes, riding, demo bikes, camping, food and movies!
September 22-23, 2012: Second annual Cackalacky 500 take place at the Itusi Trail. Participants start at 10PM and go for 500 minutes.
November 12, 2012: The final punch list is finished and the Fox, Fallstown and Wildlife Loops are officially opened to the public. This marks the end of the construction of new bike trail at Lake Norman State Park. We will now move into maintenance mode. Enjoy the ride!
Sam, opening the final phase!