Grand Mesa National Forest making changes for mountain bikers

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

The western slope is famous for its mountain biking and when the temperatures in the Grand Valley climb into the 90's, many make the short trip to the Grand Mesa. But a new decision by the U.S. Forest Service could have some bikers making a slight detour.

Mountain biking has been a popular pastime in the Grand Mesa National Forest for many years. But over these years, many mountain bikers have gone off the beaten path causing officials to take action. "We recently signed a decision that places mountain bikes onto designated routes in the Grand Mesa National Forest," says U.S. Forest Service district ranger, Connie Clementson.

There is currently 306 miles of trails that are approved for all kinds of use, including hiking and horseback riding. But for some riders this is not enough and they create their own routes. Unfortunately some of the user–created mountain bike routes are damaging the forest. "Typically the damage that we see is erosion, sedimentation and gullying from rain events," says Clementson. That's why the decision has been made to close some of these trails that officials feel can not be sustained.

The "downhill" trails known as Big Marbles and Ambush will be closed down permanently, but others will be adopted into the current system. "We have adopted a couple that we feel are sustainable in nature and one of those is the Mesa Creek Trail," says Clementson.

Adopting these trails will mean state maintenance that is beneficial to all who use them. "Provide erosion control and we'll trim trees back," says Clementson. On top of that, the Forest Service also plans to add 27 miles of new trails to the existing system. "There's going to be 330 miles available overall to mountain bikers on designated routes," says Clementson. Riding on a non–designated route can land you a ticket.

The identified new trails will be put in place over the course of the next few years, contingent upon budget. Click on the links below for more information and maps of the changes.

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