Trail Building Could Commence as Early as June
RIDGWAY – Local bike enthusiasts rejoiced last week as the Bureau of Land Management Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose announced it had signed a Decision of Record completing the Ridgway Comprehensive Trail Management Plan Environmental Assessment.
“It’s fantastic,” said Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) representative Brian Scranton. “We are tremendously thankful to the staff at the BLM for moving our collective vision forward – and all of us RATs are chomping at the cheese to get started. We have a 30-day comment period and then expect to begin building trails this June.”
The long-awaited plan formalizes and maps existing and planned single-track trail on BLM lands north of the Town of Ridgway. Trails on adjacent Colorado State Park lands will be interconnected but are not addressed in the BLM’s decision.
Much of the new trail would be multi-use: biking, hiking, and horseback, though the big excitement is over mountainbike trails that have intrigued enthusiasts and promoters of regional two-wheeled recreation since the process was initiated in 2011.
The progress of the Plan was slowed last year with the discovery and decommissioning of several “renegade” trails on public land north and east of the intersection of Hwy 550 and CR 10, in the area of the county’s gravel pit. That job was undertaken and completed by RAT volunteers, BLM crews, and trail-building experts from COPMOBA, the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association, based in Grand Junction.
The approved map closes some existing trails, including all of the trails within the county’s gravel pit boundary. It envisions more than 18 miles of new non-motorized routes and two-plus miles of road designated for full-sized 4x4 and 2WD vehicles only. There are 16.8 miles of designated non-motorized single-track.
All routes will close December 1 to April 30 annually to prevent disturbance of wintering big game.
BLM Field Manager Barb Sharrow wrote in a press release: “We appreciate the public’s patience as we completed the Environmental Assessment for the Ridgway trails system northeast of town. As we prepare to implement the plan, we will work with the Town of Ridgway, Ouray County and the trail users groups to set up volunteer trail building and trail maintenance days.”