Cedar Mountain trail project near Craig breaks ground
May 10, 2018
CRAIG — Before the tread hits the trail, the tools hit the dirt this week, as work began on additional trails on Cedar Mountain.
Seven miles of new, non-motorized trail have been proposed on the Bureau of Land Management's Cedar Mountain, about seven miles northwest of Craig.
About half the proposed trails have been approved by the BLM and are expected to be completed within the next two years. Proposed trails on the northern ridge of Cedar Mountain are undergoing further review to protect cultural resources and comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
Work began on three of these new trails this week. These include the 0.32-mile beginner trail, with several switchbacks, which is intended to create a gentler slope to get to the existing Stearns Trail. The second is a 0.9-mile route along the mountain's southern ridge. A 0.35-mile entrance trail will connect the ridge-top trail to the turn-off area, where the road to Cedar Mountain meets Moffat County Road 7.
The new trails currently being built are expected to be rough but open to trail-users by National Trails Day, June 2. The remaining southern trail segments are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
“I thought it was awesome when I was out there,” said Clark Cleverly, who has organized MOCO Trails. “I couldn’t believe that, even with just getting organized a few months ago, that we were making way on trails.”
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The trails are a collaboration between the BLM and several organizations. MOCO Trails has helped organize the efforts, layout trail and advocate for the expanded trail project. Members of the Routt County Riders helped design the new paths and flagged the preliminary trails. The Craig Hotshots, the BLM's wildland firefighting crew, roughly cut the tread of the trails and cleared brush. MOCO Trails, Routt County Riders, a local Boy Scout troop and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will finish the paths.
“I’m just grateful to have these awesome groups that are putting forth volunteer hours and money out of their pockets to help us out.” Cleverly said. “I couldn’t be more stoked on that.”
The Hot Shots roughed-in the trails on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dario Archuleta, an outdoor recreation planner at the BLM, said that, other than the Hot Shots, the BLM and collaborating organizations do not have anyone certified to do the chainsaw work required to clear the sagebrush from the soon-to-be trails.
For the Hot Shots, it was an opportunity to train outside the classroom.
"We're helping with the trail project, but it is also helping us get ready for fire season," said Hot Shots Acting Assistant Superintendent Phil Oosahwe. "That way, we're teaching the guys and getting our refreshers in for saw work and digging fire line. It's good to get the guys out in the field instead of doing annual classroom training for two weeks."
The Boy Scouts spent two days this week working on the beginner's trail. Next week, the Rocky Mountain Youth Corp will also spend two days finishing trails.
Members of Routt County Riders have also expressed interest in hosting trail build workdays. The snow melts off Moffat County's trails sooner than it does in Routt County. Routt County Riders member Aryeh Copa said this would extend the riding season for mountain bikers in the Steamboat Springs area, especially during the fall mud season, when Steamboat's trails are wet and frozen.
"There's not enough snow, usually, at that time of year to start skiing, so we're bored. We need something to do," Copa said. "An hour drive? That's nothing compared to driving to Fruita or Moab to ride."
Cleverly said there will be several more workdays on the Cedar Mountain trails. He hopes to hold a MOCO Trails workday once each month to build and maintain trails in Moffat County. The public is welcome to volunteer and work on the trail at either of the following workdays.
On May 30, MOCO Trails and the Boy Scouts will meet on Cedar Mountain to work on the trails from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
On June 2, in celebration of National Trails Day, MOCO Trails will host a workday and barbecue. From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the organization will host its inaugural work day, with the barbecue to follow.