Becoming an Eagle Scout takes dedication and persistence. To earn this highest rank advancement, Scouts must plan and complete a community service project that gives them the experience of leading others in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. Local Scout Evan Cutlip of Troop 109 knew he wanted his project to have a lasting impact. He thought BIG.

When contemplating possibilities for his Eagle Scout project, Evan, age 14, landed on a concept quickly. He and his friends enjoy mountain biking and they would often ride their bikes around town, particularly around the track at Davant Field. But Evan knew something more exciting was possible- he’d been dreaming of a bike track in his hometown of Blowing Rock since he was in Cub Scouts, after all. He envisioned building a pump track for mountain bikes, tucked by an area where people were already riding their bikes. A pump track is essentially a circuit trail with special features like berms and ramps. Cyclists ride a pump track by generating momentum along the trail with up and down body movements – pumping- instead of pedaling or pushing.

He could imagine it easily. “I just drew a plan one day at school,” Evan said. That plan, complete with a preliminary layout and track features, became the first big step in his Eagle Scout Project.

Though the trail itself had a small footprint, Evan’s parents immediately understood that the project would be a big undertaking, especially as the selected site was on Town property. They didn’t discourage him from taking it on, however. “It was going to take a lot of different elements to come together,” said Ron Cutlip, Evan’s father. As a landscape architect, he knew what kind of steps would be required to build a new landscape feature. “But we were confident he could take this on and we just needed to support his efforts.”

Evan’s mother, Cheryl Cutlip, agreed. “We always want to encourage our kids to do hard things, and Evan was so passionate about this right from the start.”

Evan began with his Eagle Scout Application, which required details on project implementation. He listed materials, quantities, expenses, potential donors, needed equipment, and more. With the project decided and plan refined, the next step was to gain approval for a brand new bike feature inside a Blowing Rock park.

On March 14, 2023, Evan went before the Town Council to present his plan. “I was pretty nervous, probably as nervous as I’ve ever been. I felt like I was on trial!” Evan said about speaking to a room of town representatives. When the issue of funding came up, Evan assured the Council that no money would be needed from the Town. The project would rely entirely on donations of materials and labor. From questions about safety and insurance to others about use and maintenance, Evan answered them all. The pump track project was approved unanimously by the Blowing Rock Town Council.

Work on the pump track began in April 2023. Though Evan initially thought the work would be completed quickly, he soon realized the project would likely take the whole summer. The project consisted of not only building the track, but clearing the initial trail, building bridges, rehabilitating the creek, and installing drains to prevent erosion. 

“The project took 660 hours of work,” Evan said. He was helped by his friends, other Boy Scouts, and volunteers. He also raised $8,437.58 for the track from more than a dozen donors. Throughout the entire project, Evan took on the main leadership role. “When I first started off, I was not getting that much respect,” Evan said, explaining that it’s natural for people to expect an adult to be in charge. But it didn’t take long for everyone to realize that the bike trail was truly Evan’s project. He became a site director, there to provide instruction, direct volunteers, and document everyone’s efforts. 

On Wednesday, September 6th the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the new Davant Bike Park. The pump track is located alongside Davant Field on Clark Street. The ¼ acre park contains 347 linear feet of bike track, with two bridges and a trail path that varies between 4 and 6 feet wide. Evan expressed his appreciation for the support from the Town of Blowing Rock, as well as the volunteers and donors who helped make the idea a reality. “I have learned a lot of good life lessons about leadership and helping the community,” he said. He and his friends then treated the crowd to a demonstration by riding their bikes around the pump track, showing the jumps, bridges, and other terrain.

Evan is excited about the fun this new trail will offer. “I just wanted to create something for the kids here in the community,” he said. “We used to have to find places to ride our bikes where we knew we really shouldn’t, so I thought it would be really nice if we had a place to go.”

Evan Cutlip’s achievement was recognized at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor on October 17th, where he was officially named an Eagle Scout. Reflecting on his accomplishment, Evan said, “Throughout all of scouting, and my entire life, I’ve learned one thing that keeps me pushing: self discipline. Just like anything, motivation comes and goes but if you have strong self discipline nothing can stand in your way. It’s a skill that takes practice. I hope to help other scouts in the future to reach their goals.”

As it so happens, 2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina, and September’s trail theme was Achieve a Trail Goal. Evan Cutlip, Eagle Scout, opened a new pump track this September, achieving his goal of building a new trail for bikers of all ages to enjoy. The entire Blowing Rock community is proud of its newest Eagle Scout, and excited to see his vision become a reality!

Donors to the Davant Bike Park include Appalachian Ski Mountain, Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation, Blowing Rock Landscape Crew, Dr. Basil and Patricia Cutlip, Greg and Jean Hebert, Highland Landscape Supplies, JW Hampton, Lowes, New River Building Supply and Lumber, 01 Masonry, Rhoddie Bicycle Outfitters, Tractor Farm Supply, Wil Townsend, and Vulcan Materials.

Volunteers on the project include Boy Scout Troop 109: Gus, Thad Kosmo and Sam, Nelson Banegas, Ben Critcher, Drew Critcher, Camden Brock, Mike Brock, Cheryl Cutlip, Ron Cutlip, John Greene, Kristrain Jackson, Scotty Moretz, Matthew Moses, Eli Rice, Mike Trew, and Kevin Huff.

Photos courtesy of Cutlip Family, Tyler Graves, and David Rogers.