The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has announced the Greater Reading Trail Systems (GRTS) as an official Bronze Level Ride Center™. The Bronze Level Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider.

A ride center can earn certification only after a member of the IMBA team conducts an on-site visit to evaluate the location’s trail system and bike amenities to ensure they meet other IMBA criteria. To date there are only 37 ride centers worldwide, which now include Reading, PA.

The GRTS is overseen by multiple organizational members of the Greater Reading Trails partnership and consists of more than 125 miles of trails in 5 major preserves, all of which can be accessed via the Schuylkill River Trail. The trails range in difficulty from beginner-friendly to some of the most technical, rock-strewn trails anywhere. There are also an abundance of in-town amenities, including bike shops, craft beer bars, hotels, music venues, restaurants, and sporting events.

The effort to develop the GRTS as a ride center was an undertaking of the Greater Reading Trails Partnership, led by the Berks Conservancy in partnership with Berks Area Mountain Biking Association, Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, the County of Berks, the City of Reading, the Pagoda Pacers, Schuylkill River Heritage Area, ReDesign Reading, Reading Health System, and Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We are thrilled with the news of the IMBA Ride Center designation,” said Kim Murphy, President of Berks Conservancy. “This is a tremendous recognition for our collective efforts through the Greater Reading Trails Partnership to close trail gaps and improve access for the visitor and trail user. Those of us who live here know how special our natural resources are in Berks County and now many others will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy places like Neversink Mountain, the Schuylkill River Trail, Blue Marsh, French Creek State Park and Mt Penn.”

Greater Reading Visitors Bureau President Crystal Seitz commented on the impact the Bronze Level Ride Center designation will have on local tourism. “Greater Reading’s special characteristics include being part of an urban center with trails within close proximity of one another. Additionally, Reading is the only one ride center in the northeast; well within a day’s drive of millions of people. This will definitely create a boost to our tourism industry. Other less populated areas that have optimized their trail systems have seen increases of more than 20,000 trail users. This effort blends perfectly with our work to enhance outdoor recreation niche identified in the Destination Marketing Study.”

“The IMBA Ride Center status puts our trail systems in the top tier of Mountain Biking and opens Greater Reading to the entire world of the mountain biking community,” said Berks Area Mountain Bike Association Director and experienced mountain biker Fred Moreadith. “The long term economic effects can be lasting as long as we nurture, expand and continue to invest in this natural resource.”

The Greater Reading Trail partners have done a phenomenal job expanding and maintaining local trails. The area is home to the annual Duryea Downhill Race, held annually on the first weekend in May, and it was once the training ground of World Cup DH racer Neko Mullaly. The GRTS experience will not disappoint even the most technically-skilled rider.