Outdoor recreational activities continue to grow in popularity | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of Karl Teemant

Cyclists use Payson’s Forebay Trailhead in this undated photo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a lot of interest in outdoor recreational activities after people spent too much time indoors.

Even though COVID-19 concerns are generally decreasing, participation in outdoor activities continues to increase. Payson Community Services Manager Karl Teemant said there has been an exponential growth in recreational activities in Payson, surrounding towns and across the state.

One of the area’s most popular recreation areas is the Forebay Trailhead, opened last year by Payson City. Teemant said there are about 400 acres in Forebay and about 15 miles of trails that the public can use.

“We also have paved trails in town,” Teemant said. “The city did the Dry Creek Connection this year, which connects our two larger trails. This is our biggest trail on the creek bed and then there is a tunnel that goes under the highway and heads towards Santaquin.

He added that having more options allows people to find the activity that works best for them.

Courtesy of Karl Teemant

Markers installed throughout the Forbay Trail by Payson City are shown in this undated photo.

“I’m more familiar with the mountain bike side, and it’s growing. People don’t run on the roads. They go on unpaved paths and walk them. Mountain biking has also become more popular. There’s more and more demand in there, and in my mind, it’s coming from across the state,” he said.

Teemant noted that cycling has become more popular among teenagers and young adults, pointing to the Nebo Goats mountain bike team which is made up of students in grades 7-12 from high schools in Springville, Mapleton, Spanish Fork, Salem and Payson. Teemant said the team has grown from 30 participants just 10 years ago to more than 200 now.

Raistlin Hartman, owner of Ride n’ Bikes shop in Payson, has also seen a huge increase in outdoor activities, especially cycling.

“He’s been booming,” Hartman said. “COVID-19 blew up the bike shop industry and everyone found they could recreate outside. I mean there were families of five coming here and spending $3,000 on bikes to have fun outside. COVID is really in a tailspin and you would think people would slow down or want to sell these bikes, but that hasn’t been the case. People have really fallen in love with the bike and it’s exploding.

Although he opened his store in February, Hartman ran the bike shop that had previously been there for 10 years.

Courtesy of Karl Teemant

Markers installed throughout the Forbay Trail by Payson City are shown in this undated photo.

Being connected to the industry, Hartman saw how important Payson’s recreational areas were to the community. A few years ago, a developer approached the city about turning areas of Forebay into housing estates, which Hartman is grateful never happened.

“It was baffling because they built about 18 miles of trail up there and the whole community uses it, not just cyclists,” he said. “So the community came together and created Forebay Forever and showed Payson City that these trails were used for recreational users, and we fought tooth and nail. In the end, Payson City recognized that our recreation in the area was only growing.

According to Hartman, e-bikes are also becoming popular in the region and allow a more diverse group of people to ride bikes. Electric bikes have an integrated electric motor that provides pedaling assistance to riders, allowing riders to ride longer while using less effort.

Elk Ridge resident Chad Nelson and his family are frequent buyers at Ride n’ Bikes due to available land in southern Utah County.

“A big part of the draw is Forebay Trail. It’s kind of a cultural shift, because this area is mostly seen as farmland and everything that goes with it,” Nelson said.

Courtesy of Raistlin Hartman

Payson Ride n’ Bikes owners Raistlin Hartman and Toni Hartman are shown on one of the bikes in this undated photo.


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