Trail nirvana: Grand Hogback Trails offer elevated mountain biking |

Trail nirvana: Grand Hogback Trails offer elevated mountain biking

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan mountain bikes the Rifle Arch trail with his dog Misu on a warm morning north of Rifle.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Take two parts soft, hand-crafted singletrack, a few dashes of technical rock crossings, and a heaping spoonful of downhills steep enough to make your stomach drop.

Voila: You have a well-made mountain bike trail. What some residents or visitors of the Roaring Fork Valley may not realize, however, is that these expertly designed trails exist locally and are ready to be explored.

The Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization (RAMBO) seeks to build and maintain mountain bike trails in the RIfle area. One of RAMBO’s main objectives is to make sure the city of Rifle becomes a new hot spot for avid mountain bikers. RAMBO has recently developed trails for those who are new to the sport to those who have been participating in the sport for years.

RAMBO was lucky to get the opportunity to develop an untouched area spanning 2,200 acres from the Bureau of Land Management close to the Rifle Arch hiking area. Since then, with the help of Gumption Trailworks, RAMBO has developed the first 6-mile section of a technical cross country mountain biking loop named the Grand Hogback trail system and plans to hopefully develop another 12 miles of trails with the help of more funding from the public.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes the switchbacks downhill while mountain biking at the new Rifle Arch mountain bike trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“It is truly a unique experience for this entire area,” RAMBO board member and self-diagnosed biking “addict” Gary Miller said. “The Grand Hogback Trail appeals to a wide range of abilities from experts to those just being introduced to the sport.”

The trail has been expertly designed by Aaron Mattix of Gumption Trail Works who uses pickaxes, rakes and backhoes to craft the trail. Volunteers help Mattix make his trail designs come to fruition by lending a hand carving the path of the trail.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes the switchbacks downhill while mountain biking at the new Rifle Arch mountain bike trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Grand Hogback Trail is unique as it was designed from scratch with no other game trails in the area. The trail offers a good amount of rock gardens, steep drops and other technical features.

“I like how the trails flow. There are some pretty exposed spots, but it’s not super treacherous, so there’s an enjoyable flow to the trail system,” said Thomas Sullivan, who rides the trail weekly with his dog Misu jogging alongside.

If the Grand Hogback Trail system is too technical for someone’s current skill level, the city of Rifle also offers other soft-surface trail systems, like the Highland trails system that lies within the city limits.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes the switchbacks downhill while mountain biking at the new Rifle Arch mountain bike trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“The Highland Trail system offers an inside loop that is 3 miles and an outside loop that will add up to 5 miles. The Highland Trail might be a trail to hop on first before going out to Grand Hogback that tends to have more challenging features than Highland,” Miller said of the difference between the two trails.

RAMBO has recently started hosting group rides for the community called Bikes ’n’ Brews. The group rides, which are growing in popularity, usually occur on the first Thursday of every month. After the ride is complete the riders tend to meet up for some local grub and drinks, allowing riders to engage with other members of the mountain biking community.

“The mission with these group rides is to introduce the local trail system to local riders of multiple skills,” Miller said. “We don’t want people to get over their heads about their skill level out on a trail.”

Miller has also developed a small skills course at Deerfield Park, with turns that mimic what riders will see on the trails at Grand Hogback. This course allows riders to have the opportunity to practice or warm up their mountain biking skills before heading out to Highland or even Grand Hogback.

If you go…

Map detailing the Grand Hogback Trail System | Cody Jones / Post Independent

Bikes ’n’ Brews

Who: RAMBO riders and other members of the community.

What: Group ride ending at a local Rifle eatery.

When: 6-9 p.m. Aug. 5

Where: Follow RAMBO on Facebook or Instagram to get exact locations, will meet somewhere in downtown Rifle.

The monthly group ride has seen everyone from family, youth and old riders come out to the event to improve their trail riding skills and have a good time out on the trails. The event has also shown attendees how connected the Rifle biking paths and trails in fact are.

“It is very possible to ride from one trail to the next through Rifle while using as few roads as possible, and we want to let people know that as best as we can,” Miller said.

RAMBO hopes to bring an experience like no other to anyone who uses the trails. “The trails are ultimately for the people who want to accidentally see a deer or a fox and have a wooded experience on a nice soft surface trail as opposed to a hard paved path or road,” Miller said.

Trail Facts

Grand Hogback Trail:

Located six miles north of downtown Rifle off of Highway 13.

Same parking lot as the Rifle Arch parking lot.

Offers approximately 6 miles of singletrack trails with technical features sprinkled throughout.

Highland Trail:

Can be accessed from Davidson Park or from other connecting trails from Downtown Rifle.

Located on 715 Fir Ave., Rifle, CO 81650

Offers 5 miles of singletrack trails that are more mild in difficulty.

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