HITTING THE NEW TRAIL
Mountain bikers already enjoying Wrangler reroute
Nothing gets the heart rating going like a steep climb, or the opening of a new trail.
For avid local mountain bikers, the plethora of trails in Mesa County offer plenty of challenges and fun times.
But it’s always a thrill to check out a new sliver of dirt.
The newest trail is in the Kokopelli area at the Loma exit off Interstate 70 is about a quarter of a mile up from the beginning of Mary’s Loop off the main road. It isn’t a huge section of new trail but it’s the culmination of a long project and the start of something larger.
“This has been in the works, probably since 2004,” said John Howe of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association. “This goes back to the original 2004 resource management plan for the (Dominquez-Escalante) National Conservation Area.”
A group of supporters and officials numbering close to 40 came out to celebrate the trail opening ceremony on Thursday.
“In addition to this trail, we have another 5½ miles of trail approved and we hope to start construction on the next trail in the series this month,” Howe said to the group. “We’re looking forward to construction of the new section and as always it’s part of a collaborative effort.”
The project involved a number of agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the city of Fruita, COPMOBA, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, the Grand Valley Trail Alliance, several Fruita businesses and more.
The trail — called the Wrangler reroute — is a singletrack section about a mile long that is a fairly easy stretch with some rocky sections.
“It’s fun and it flows real nice,” said Ryan Steele, a professional trail builder who was on hand for the trail opening ceremony. “This type of trail is nice because you want trails that are appropriate to all levels of mountain bikers.”
Collin Ewing, BLM manager for the Dominquez-Escalante National Conservation Area, also said collaboration was the key.
“It’s going to make the Wrangler trail more fun to ride, it’s more ecologically sustainable and it’s a great partnership,” Ewing said.
It’s also part of and a new vision for the BLM.
“It’s a game changer for the BLM,” Ewing told the group. “With this new strategy, it directs us to work more with the local communities in a different way than in the past.”
The new BLM strategy is to talk to recreation users, city governments and other agencies to “understand what the community really needs from our public lands when we’re talking about recreation,” Ewing said.
The Wrangler reroute is one of the first projects to embrace that new vision.
“With this new strategy we looked at the city of Fruita and thought this is the perfect opportunity to pilot this new strategy,” Ewing added.
The new trail section serves a couple of purposes that are always part of the equation when finding areas to construct new trails.
“The Wrangler reroute will make it a more sustainable, fun way down off the higher part of Mary’s Loop,” Howe said, adding that the trail winds its way up, then reconnects with Mary’s Loop.
Erosion control is the other important goal.
Currently the trail has an option of a narrow double track that takes riders to a higher part of the trail in a straight line and a singletrack that winds around before topping out.
The singletrack will become the permanent trail when the double track part is closed off later next year.
The singletrack section makes for a more fun riding experience and controls erosion better, said Christopher Boyd of the BLM.
Howe said the next trail project on the agenda is near the Mack exit, west of the Loma exit.
“We’re starting construction on a new trail that’s part of this whole project,” he said. “It comes up from the Mack exit parking lot up to the Mack Ridge.
The hope is to have that trail completed by April in time for the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.