Trail projects in New Castle, Rifle receive funding support from Garfield County

Gumption Trailworks owner and avid mountain biker Aaron Mattix rides a portion of the Grand Hogback trail.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Two ongoing biking and hiking trail projects in New Castle and Rifle were awarded two major funding bumps from the Garfield County Commission on Monday.

New Castle’s Burning Mountain Trail, set to fully establish an 8.9-mile loop that starts directly west of town, received $10,000 from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund.

Rifle’s Grand Hogback Trail, which would create nearly 20 miles of track beside the Rifle Arch, received $20,000 from the same fund.

Commissioners voted unanimously on the total $30,000 allocation.

“I get comments at least every two weeks from somebody who is just elated and euphoric about what you’re doing and the trails that you have already established and the ones you’re going forward with,” Commissioner Mike Samson told New Castle representatives during Monday’s commission meeting. “It seems to be a very popular, big hit.

“People are excited about it.”

A rider shows his horns for the camera prior to starting his journey during a Grand Hogback Extravaganza showcase ride event.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Samson also spoke to Grand Hogback’s parking lot expansion, a project the county itself conducted.

“It’s not uncommon to have 10 cars out there at one time,” he said, adding the Grand Hogback also continues to gain more popularity. “Just like the trails in New Castle, it’s a big hit.” 


The Burning Mountain Trail project was initiated by New Castle Trails, a group of volunteers formed in 2015. The group was formerly a subsection of regional organization Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association.

Estimated to cost $251,000, the Burning Mountain project is made up of two phases. Funding sources include the town of New Castle, the Rides and Reggae fundraising event, private and public grants as well as business and individual sponsorships. According to New Castle, however, the project currently shows a $41,000 deficit.

Phase one, conducted in 2022, created five miles of multi-use, two-direction track. It’s a 1,500-foot climber-friendly ascent.

Phase two is scheduled for 2023. It will span 3.9 miles and create a downhill optimized advanced descent and return. 

According to New Castle Trails Chairman Adam Cornely, work has already begun on phase two.

“Our builder did start,” he said Monday. “He got the first 1,000 feet of descent done. With a little luck, we should be done this summer.”

If New Castle gets even luckier, the ultimate plan is to link their trail systems to trial systems in both Silt and Rifle.


The Grand Hogback Trails project is the product of the Rifle Area Mountain Biking Organization (RAMBO). The group, started in 2010, and operates under the umbrella of the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corporation — its fiscal agent.

With full build-out estimated to cost $395,000, the Grand Hogback Trails also takes on a phased-in approach, with the first phase completed in 2021. Among its fiscal supporters, Rifle has already allocated $80,000 for the project, while the Grand Hogback also secured a $160,000 non-motorized grant through Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The trails are single track and friendly to both bikers and hikers. The contractor, Gumption Trail Works, has already completed 11 miles of track. What straddles the Rifle Arch some nine miles north of Rifle off Colorado Highway 13, this high-desert sagebrush-ridden playground boasts diverse obstacles, including flow trails, steep drops, rock gardens and more.

Rifle Planning Director Patrick Waller told commissioners on Monday that unanticipated rising costs due to inflation prompted the additional $20,000 request.

“Our bid came in a little bit higher than expected,” he said. “We’re trying to make up the difference between the bid that came in and the full completion of the trails.”

In addition to the county’s newest allocation, Rifle is right now going after a Federal Mineral Lease District mini-grant to support the complete build out of the project, expected for 2024.

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