Festival celebrating region’s Grand Hogback Trails stomps its way to Rifle this weekend
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Community Fun Run has been canceled due to muddy trails at the Grand Hogback.
Stretch your muscles. Get your shoes ready. It’s trail time, baby.
A massive celebration of Rifle’s trail-running scene is slated for an all-day ambrosia of recreation and entertainment Saturday. Called Colorado Trailfest, the day’s festivities were going to begin with a four-mile fun run on Rifle’s Grand Hogback Trails but it was canceled due to muddy conditions. Later in the day, however, the Ute Theater hosts a screening of the Trail Running Film Festival, a global homage to navigating off the beaten path.
Evening revels also include local disc jockeys spinning beats, giveaways and a speech by two-time Olympian Jeanne Golay. Golay is a Glenwood Springs resident and executive director of the LoVa Trail Association, an organization that aims to build its Lower Valley Trail all throughout the Colorado River corridor.
“I’m impressed that Trailfest is coming to Rifle,” Golay said on Friday. “It’s great for the community, and they only do one for each state.
“I was flattered to be asked to be the speaker at the event.”
Golay said she intends to focus her speech on how Garfield County can best use its spaces for improving recreational opportunities like trails and better interconnectivity.
“I would say what we’re lacking is that final mile for that trail connection,” she said. “We have amazing facilities surrounding our communities, but that final mile is lacking, and it’s a huge barrier.”
Locals and visitors alike agree the Grand Hogback Trail System, which caters to hikers, runners and mountain bikers, has slowly but surely turned into Rifle’s pride and joy. What’s set to extend to nearly 20 miles deep into territory adorned by the Rifle Arch, the Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization has continued to forge a series of single-lane track through breathtaking, high-desert obstacles. And with the help of Gumption Trailworks wonder and avid mountain biker Aaron Mattix as well as substantial funding for the city itself, Colorado Parks and Wildlife grants and various donations, the Grand Hogback is on its way to being fully built out by 2024.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in Rifle, and LoVa is pleased to partner with (RAMBO),” Golay said.
Josh Bassett is founder and chief strategist for Independent World, a Rifle startup that helped orchestrate the upcoming event. He said Colorado Trailfest’s mission is simple: build community through trail running, film and music.
“It’s pretty neat because The Trail Running Film Festival is a global tour, and we are the exclusive Western Colorado partners,” he said. “The film is a collection of five short films that celebrate running, wild spaces, and the trail-running community as a whole.”
A trailer of the film can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlmqM98elaM&t=1s.
“We’re going to showcase five shorts, have a 30-minute intermission with music and giveaways, with the remaining four shorts to end the fest,” Bassett said.
One other major piece Bassett is trying to add to Saturday’s event is a potential speech by longtime local and resident mountain bike aficionado Gary Miller. Miller also sits on the RAMBO board and, at age 75, already has a stretch of the Grand Hogback Trail named after him — befittingly called, “Miller Highlife.”
“Not my choice,” Miller said with a laugh on Friday. Miller thought it was a joke at first. “It’s one of those things, if you don’t attend every meeting, you can be appointed to anything imaginable. I showed up to the next meeting and they named the trail after me.”
When it comes to the progress so far made on the Grand Hogback, Miller considers himself lucky. During one of the first meetings he attended addressing a possible trial system, he said he made a request. Miller, in his early 70s at the time, said he wanted to see a trail system created by the time he’s 80.
“We got a trail system by the time I was 75,” he said. “So I’m tickled to death.”
Miller said that RAMBO and everyone involved are making big progress with the Grand Hogback, and that it’s “just an incredible asset” that’s perfect for mountain biking and running alike.
Miller over the more recent years has had to battle major health issues, like stage 3 kidney cancer, which makes seeing progress on the Grand Hogback and this upcoming event all the more important.
“It’s a really special time for me,” he said. “I really wasn’t supposed to be here.”
Rifle City Council member Sean Strode, a mountain biker himself, spent time Friday reminiscing about what it was like trying to find a place to ride back in the day.
“When I first got here, it was Garry Miller showing me mountain bike trials,” he said. “And that was the only way you knew about it.”
But with Colorado Trailfest and Grand Hogback — as well all the other recreational amenities in Rifle, like the Colorado River and Rifle Mountain Park — future opportunities seem rather endless at this point.
“This is the beginning,” he said. “I think opportunities like these are going to take off, especially when you look at the river, climbing…”
“We’re making our name known.”
UPDATE: With the recent snowfall that Rifle received this week, the 4-Mile Community Fun Run at the Grand Hogback Trails is canceled due to muddy trail conditions. People are encouraged to run on their own on their favorite trails with their favorite people, and the run is still slated from 9 a.m.-noon. For those looking to run in Rifle, the trails below are being recommended:
• Highland Trail: For those looking for an alternate trail to run on Saturday morning, try Highland Trail in Rifle. The trail is approximately three miles long and currently has dry conditions, ideal for trail running. Highlands is across from Davidson Park in Rifle, at 715 First Ave.
• Rifle Creek Trail at Centennial Park: If you’re looking for a paved trail to run on, try the Rifle Creek Trail, which starts at Centennial Park on 300 West 5th St. The trails go from Third Street to Ninth Street, and East 11th Street to Deerfield Park.
• The screening of the trail running film, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlmqM98elaM&t=1s, and the live festivities take place from 4-9 p.m. at the Ute Theater, 132 East 4th St. Tickets are $25
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