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Rifle is looking to make tracks

With the 30-day appeal period over, construction plans take shape for the new Grand Hogback Trails near Rifle Arch

Grand Hogback Trails.

Mountain bikers will soon have more options for single-track fun in western Garfield County as the city of Rifle, the Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization and local volunteers start moving forward on carving a new trail system through the pinyon and juniper trees north of Rifle.

“It’s going to be such a great system out there. I think it really is going to be a big draw for us. It will be a pretty big deal once we get enough miles out there — it compares to a lot of other systems in Colorado,” Rifle City Planner Nathan Lindquist said. “It’s going to be really cool.”

After receiving approval Lindquist said they took another look at what trails they could do and how they could get the most bang for their buck with a longer trail.

The first phase of the 18-mile project is expected to cost just over $90,000, which organizers hope to start the beginning of September, and will include nearly seven miles of single-track.

“You know what is nice about this trail system, it gives you a very different view. When you get up on these mesas, you get an almost 360 degree of the valley you don’t get in a lot of other spots,” designated trail builder Aaron Mattix said. “I think it will start to help funnel a little more recreation into our little eddy of the valley.”

Lindquist said they would need about three miles of the trail to be built by volunteers in addition to the    contractor they hired to do stuff that needed to be built with a machine.

“We really tried to minimize the crossings, they did a pretty good job with designing it that way,” Lindquist said. “You’ll climb uphill to the left of the trail, and then when you’re coming back to the trailhead you’ll be on the right side.”

Lindquist there will be only one major crossing of the trail, and one smaller crossing if you want to do more laps around the loop.

The money for the project was raised through donations and grants including $30,000 from the city of Rifle, $27,000 from Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, $20,000 from Garfield County, $10,000 from the Clough Family Foundation and $5,000 from both the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. and Alpine bank.

Lindquist said everybody is pitching in to get the project completed.

The city has contracted Aaron Mattix with Gumption Trail Works as the designated trail builder. A Rifle resident, Mattix is wrapping up a few other projects before he digs into the Grand Hogback Trails.

Mattix and board members from RAMBO had a walkthrough Sunday planning details of how the trails will snake through the BLM land that surrounds the Rifle Arch nine miles north of Rifle. 

“The first step right now is going to be pin flagging some of the trail on Mesa 1 that is going to be volunteer built, and then we are going to have some crew leader training to get the people who are going to be leading our volunteers getting them up to speed on the kind of trail we are looking for,” Mattix said.

With temperatures rising above 90 degrees, Mattix said it is not the ideal time to build trails. Waiting will give board members time to schedule trail build training for local crew leaders/board members who have volunteered as trail crew leaders. 

“Their role is to supervise the larger volunteer trail build days we have coming up in September — we don’t have anything scheduled for those yet, but the plan is to train up through August,” RAMBO president Erik Villaseñor said. 

Organizers hope temperatures become milder moving into the fall, and they will begin calling for volunteers to help build trails. 

“We are working on the best way to do that right now. We’re going to most likely be using some sort of signup service online. We will be putting the information out via Facebook, Instagram, and we have a new website coming,” RAMBO Vice President Alison Birkenfeld said.“This is going to be a big volunteer effort.”

kmills@postindependent.com


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