Wheels continue to turn for Grand Hogback bike trail development | PostIndependent.com

Wheels continue to turn for Grand Hogback bike trail development

City approves substantial purchase order for complete build out

A rider sets off on a trail during the Grand Hogback Extravaganza showcase ride event north of Rifle in 2021.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Avid mountain bikers say right around 20 miles is when a Colorado trail reaches “destination status.” A current project creating a massive singletrack bike trail at Rifle Arch is one rock garden closer to joining the club, according to a Rifle official.

“Everyone’s coming to Rifle,” Rifle City Attorney Jim Neu said. “But it’s the same amount of riding as it is driving.”

Rifle City Council on Aug. 3 unanimously approved $265,006 in construction services to build out what will eventually be an additional 8.31 miles for the Grand Hogback Trail System. The system some 9 miles north of Rifle on Colorado Highway 13 will establish 18 miles of ridable trail, which also allows use of Class 1 E-bikes.

The eventual build-out includes new toilets, which will be maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.

Rifle has budgeted $80,000 from its conservation trust fund for the project, city documents show. The city has also budgeted additional support from Alpine Bank, Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization, private funding and a $160,000 grant recently awarded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

But the purchase order has 2.51 miles of trail pending for construction. Rifle-based Gumption Trail Works has so far overseen construction of the Grand Hogback and submitted the only bid for complete build-out of the trail. The bid came in at $360,095 — at least $90,095 more than estimated.

Because of this, the city opted to decrease the scope of construction. The city anticipates securing additional project funding through its partners, and only then will the project be fully built out.

Meanwhile, Gumption Trail Works Owner Aaron Mattix has agreed to ensure costs don’t exceed the $360,095 bid, Rifle Planning Director Patrick Waller said. City staff is set to provide a funding update for council with the hopes that final completion occurs spring 2023.

“The plan is that (Mattix’s) rates he provides in his bid will hold with the hopes we can get some funding next year for the full build-out of the trail at that time,” Waller said.

The Grand Hogback Trail System itself has so far extended miles and miles up and down bristly terrain, where the desert landscapes of the Grand Valley essentially meet Western Slope mountain country. It formerly used to be about a 2.8-mile, there-and-back hiking trail to Rifle Arch.

Construction has so far not only extended the trail system, but Garfield County expanded the parking lot, while the new system lured in more mountain bikers who would formerly use nearby Hubbard Mesa.

“One of the main reasons for pursuing this area was to try and reduce some of the amount of conflict we’ve had in Hubbard Mesa,” Mattix said. “Focusing one group of users out of that area into another area has alleviated some of those problems.”

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