New mountain biking trail system eyed for New Castle’s Burning Mountain; South Canyon bike park addition planned

An autumn 2021 view looking west over New Castle, including Burning Mountain in the distance, where a new bike trail system is being planned.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

New Castle’s iconic Burning Mountain could host the next new network of mountain biking trails.

That and a new feature at the existing South Canyon Trail System are the subject of two separate funding requests before Garfield County commissioners.

In 2020, a landowner on Burning Mountain, located just west of New Castle, offered to work with the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association to establish a trail network, RFMBA Executive Director Mike Pritchard informed the commissioners Monday morning.

An initial feasibility study identified potential trail alignments, including approximately 9 miles of trails in the first of two phases, Pritchard said.

“Views from many of the trail alignments include the Colorado River, I-70 and the Flat Tops to the north,” Pritchard wrote in a funding request before the commissioners. “Most trails are designed for two-way foot and bike traffic, with recommended directional use for bikes.”

A separate hiking-only trail is included in the second phase of development, Pritchard said.

Combined with the existing trail network on Bureau of Land Management property north of New Castle, the additional trails could be a new draw for local outdoor enthusiasts and visitors alike, he said.

Pritchard was before the county commissioners seeking two separate grants, both of which could come from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund, he proposed.

The first would involve $10,000 to put toward the Burning Mountain project, the first phase of which is estimated to cost $255,000.

Pritchard is also working with the town of New Castle for $100,000 over two years, in addition to $60,000 in proceeds from the New Castle Trails group’s Rides & Reggae Festival in August of this year and next.

RFMBA would provide another $50,000 in foundational grant support, plus in-kind volunteer support for the trail construction when the time comes.

Pritchard said his group hopes to start construction on the trail project this year.

In addition, RFMBA is seeking $10,000 in Conservation Trust Funds to build a new bike park trail feature within Glenwood Springs’ South Canyon Trail System.

Partial funding is already secured and carried over from previous years to build the new Alpine Slide Trail feature.

“This trail will provide a directional experience tailored for building intermediate and advanced bike handling skills in a fun, safe and beautiful environment,” Pritchard wrote in the second request.

The trail would be located where the old alpine slide attraction used to be — portions of which remain and will need to be removed to make way for the new bike park.

“This trail will be located adjacent to and north of the nearby landfill entrance, accessed by the existing Tramway Trail,” Pritchard wrote.

The trail would total about 1 mile, using on-site rocks and soil, along with wood and steel features, he said.

Cost estimates for the South Canyon project come to about $80,000, he said.

RFMBA is working with the Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Department to develop the new trail feature.

The trails projects were among several nonprofit discretionary and Conservation Trust grant requests before the commissioners Monday as part of their first quarter funding cycle.

Other requests included: Community Counts Colorado, $10,000; KSUN Community Radio, Battlement Mesa, $5,000; West Elk Trails, $3,000; New Castle Trails Rides and Reggae support, $5,000; Roaring Fork Leadership, $5,000; GlenX Career Expo, $3,000; Youthentity, $5,000.

County commissioners are expected to decide on the various grant requests when they meet Feb. 22.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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