Planned Burning Mountain trails get Garfield County funding support

A plan to build a new network of mountain biking, foot and equestrian trails on Burning Mountain west of New Castle was approved for a $10,000 Garfield County Conservation Trust Fund grant by the county commissioners on Monday.

The proposal had previously been pitched to the county by the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA) in February, but commissioners said they would prefer the request come through the town of New Castle as the formal financial agent.

Joined by Adam Cornely from the New Castle Trails group, New Castle Town Manager Dave Reynolds and Town Council Member Graham Riddile followed up with the commissioners to make the request.

Total project cost is expected to come to $255,000, and the hope is to complete the initial phase of trail construction this year, Riddile said.

The town is also providing $100,000 over two years for the project, and the RFMBA would provide a $50,000 foundational grant to build the trails, according to previous representations by RFMBA Director Mike Pritchard.

Another $60,000 is expected to come from the New Castle Trails’ annual Rides and Reggae Festival over the next two years. The music and race event takes place in August.

In 2020, a private landowner on Burning Mountain, located just west of New Castle, offered to work with the town and the trails groups to establish a trail network. A feasibility study identified potential trail alignments, including approximately 9 miles of trails in the first of two phases, Pritchard said during a February presentation to the county commissioners.

The main trailhead would be near Elk Creek Elementary School, which required an agreement with the Garfield Re-2 School District, Riddile said.

No motorized or e-bike access would be allowed, per the landowners request, he said.

However, a separate hiking- and equestrian-only trail is included in the second phase of development along the north side of the mountain.

In the initial phase, a trail to the summit from the north would descend on the south side of Burning Mountain, with a return trail to New Castle on the hillside above U.S. Highway 6.

County commissioners unanimously approved the grant.

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

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