Family-oriented trail system built by the community
THE STORY OF THREE SISTERS
A sign and dedication ceremony for Three Sisters recreation area kicked off Thursday, Oct. 24, as a “Thank You!” to major donors and volunteers of the project.
Three Sisters is a land-conservation project that got its start in 2010, when Mesa Land Trust found out 130 acres of land was for sale by Lunch Loops in Grand Junction. After an extensive community-wide fundraising effort resulted in the land acquisition by Mesa Land Trust for the City of Grand Junction in 2012, trail-building commenced that fall and lasted about a year.
Now two family-oriented trails are open to the public on Three Sisters, with a third planned for 2014.
The Three Sisters project is the result of many partners, too — Mesa Land Trust, the City of GJ, the Bureau of Land Management and COPMOBA. And the goal of the project is “to preserve the three beautiful hills for family- and youth-friendly recreational biking and hiking trails,” a Mesa Land Trust news release said.
— Caitlin Row, firstname.lastname@example.org
Two rolling trails in Grand Junction’s Three Sisters recreation area are finally done — perfect for families, hikers, joggers, mountain bikes and dogs. And without the project’s passionate volunteer base, these two new miles of trail would still be a dream.
From fundraising for land acquisition to planning and trail-building efforts, a broad spectrum of Grand Valley residents (and even some kids) came together on a big Mesa Land Trust project meant to conserve the Three Sisters land as open space. The 130-acre parcel is found near the expansive Lunch Loops trail system off Monument Road.
“COPMOBA did the vast majority of organizing for trail-building, with Mesa Land Trust and the BLM assisting,” Mesa Land Trust Project Coordinator Libby Collins said. “All of that trail-building and restoration, that’s all done by volunteers at minimal cost to the city and the BLM.”
Trails are described as family-oriented, Collins explained. New, laid-back mileage is also meant to minimize conflict between trail users on bike and foot, plus it allows beginner mountain bikers to cruise without stress.
To access both new trails, the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) President Scott Winans suggests starting at the Lunch Loops parking lot off Monument Road and looking for signs. Folks should “head into the Kids Meal trail or Curt’s Lane and continue north,” where new Three Sisters trails branch off.
“There are a lot of points of connection with the two new trails,” he noted. “It feels like more than two new independent routes. You can do a figure-eight and not retrace significant portions. The connectivity is a really nice feature.”
According to COPMOBA coordinator Amy Agapito, construction on Three Sisters was managed over three separate weekends this past year, led by COPMOBA’s trained crew leaders.
“Roughly 100 people from the community pitched in along with COPMOBA trail leaders” to build the Three Sisters trails, Winans said. He credits the “vast community outreach” as the reason why trail-building efforts received above-average participation for this project.
“There was a great variety of volunteers — from folks who’d never built trail before to people who weren’t mountain bikers,” Winans added. “We tapped into hikers and runners, though there were plenty of mountain-bike users involved. We also got a wider spread for volunteer demographics. There were a good number of people falling into an older age group than we normally get — the 55-70 range.”
More kids were involved in Three Sisters than expected, too. Agapito credits the annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. Families came out to build trail as a complement to mountain biking, she noted.
“Three Sisters is a really perfect place for kids to come and try out trail-building,” Agapito said, who also volunteered in the effort. “In volunteer trail-building in general, I’ve never had anyone go away unhappy. There’s lots of fun and enjoyment to be had in knowing that what they’re doing will be there along time to come.”
Want to volunteer for future trail-building efforts through COPMOBA, Three Sisters or otherwise? Visit http://www.copmoba.org for a calendar of events.
To learn more about the Three Sisters trail system, visit http://www.threesisterspark.org.
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Independence Pass opened just before 2 p.m. Friday after closing earlier this week because of a series of snowstorms, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Friday.