User groups team up to build trail
Mesa County Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Using leverage bars (and other hand tools) to pry rocks loose, volunteers worked for 10 days recently building a “see-forever” trail that mostly hugs the rim of Grand Mesa.
Mountain bikers, horseback riders and the U.S. Forest Service collaborated this month in building the Flowing Park Trail near Land’s End Road.
“It’s a gorgeous trail. You can look out toward the San Juan Mountains and the Uncompahgre (plateau),” said Chris Muhr, president of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA). “It’s at 10,000 feet on a beautiful flat plateau. It’s the coolest thing.”
The trail is located on the southwest edge of Grand Mesa, or five miles south of Land’s End Road and Highway 65 on Grand Mesa.
Formed in 1989, the mountain bike group develops and maintains trails on the Colorado Plateau. COPMOBA built the 138-mile Kokopelli Trail, from Loma to Moab. The group also built the Tabeguache and Paradox trails.
Dan Antonelli, a COPMOBA board member, approached the U.S. Forest Service about building the Grand Mesa trail and learned it was already in their management plan to build a trail in the area.
Lorin Paulson, district recreation manager for the Forest Service, mapped out the route in the early 1990s when mountain biking was first becoming popular.
“I took a video and identified it back then as a potential route to provide a good mountain bike experience,” Paulson said.
But there was no federal money to build the trail and for years the idea sat on the shelf.
About five years ago COPMOBA shifted interest from primarily Bureau of Land Management lands to Forest Service lands. Antonelli approached Paulson searching for additional mountain biking routes. Paulson took out his map and “dusted it off.”
Volunteers started working on the trail four years ago after biological and cultural assessments were completed. The trail is about 16 to 18 inches wide and about 15 miles long.
During summers, volunteers worked three or four hours, until chased out by monsoon thunderstorms.
“The logistics are huge, and the days are big,” Antonelli said. It’s high altitude and a lot of work, he added.
Earlier this month he and a couple of other COPMOBA members, Kevin Foote and Barney Barnett, decided to set up camp in the area, advertise for volunteer help and see how much trail they could build in 10 days. About 20 volunteers assisted in the trail-building.
In a somewhat unlikely alliance, Backcountry Horsemen joined forces with the mountain bike association by providing support building the trail. On July 4 and 5, the horsemen packed in a large tent, stoves, tools and personal gear to the trail-builders’ base camp, four miles from the staging area.
The horseback riders resupplied the volunteers with water Thursday, and then Sunday, July 13, packed out the tent, the big stove and personal gear.
Horse people, bicyclists and other trail users have not always gotten along, said Neil Mutzbauer, who’s in charge of the trail committee for Backcountry Horsemen. “Each group has its own agenda,” he said.
“Joint efforts are to our advantage. We need to maintain trails, but we can’t do it all ourselves,” Mutzbauer said. “So far it’s been a very good working relationship.”
The new trail, once completed, will loop all around the Flowing Park Indian Point peninsula on Grand Mesa. About a mile-and-a-half of the trail remains to be built.
“It’s a very nice trail,” Mutzbauer said. “One side looks at the Delta area, and the other (overlooks) Kannah Creek and Mesa County. It’s a beautiful area.”
The Forest Service also hauled in water and tools to the volunteers.
The trail can be reached by driving across Grand Mesa on Highway 65 to Land’s End Road. A mile-and-a-half down Flowing Park Road you come to a gate where the trail starts.
The average person would probably not be comfortable hiking the area until a map is published and signage is installed, Antonelli said.
“There are some posts on the Indian Point trail, but not on the Flowing Park trail,” Antonelli said. “There are lots of cow trails.”
Once the Forest Service determines enough work has been completed on the trail, it will make adjustments to the map and provide signage in the area. The Forest Service is also seeking grant money to assist in completing the trail as well as construct a connector trail from Highway 65 to Flowing Park trail.
The continuous work and determination of the mountain bike association is impressive, Paulson said.
“And it’s very impressive that the Backcountry Horsemen has volunteered to provide support,” Paulson said. “Kudos to the groups working on it.”
Contact Sharon Sullivan at email@example.com.
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