Craig Hotshot crew volunteers time to create brand new hiking and biking trail at Loudy-Simpson Park
Craig and Moffat County residents have a brand new hiking and biking trail at Loudy-Simpson Park thanks to volunteer work from the Craig Hotshot Wildland Fire Crew.
On Thursday, May 13 firefighters from the Little Snake Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management worked with local resident and mountain bike enthusiast Steve Martinson to add a new trail at the west end of Loudy-Simpson Park.
Martinson had previously collaborated with the local hotshot crew in 2019 to create the Skyline Trail on the bluff above the ice rink and soccer fields. The Skyline Trail gives park users another option, in addition to the trails on the lower meadows of the park.
In 2018, Martinson was looking for an opportunity to construct a mountain bike trail closer to Craig. He started walking the ridge at Loudy-Simpson looking at how he could add to areas already in use by walkers.
Martinson then mapped out a potential trail and approached the Moffat County Commissioners with a proposal – he would build the trail if they were OK with the plan. Then commissioners at the time — Don Cook, Ray Beck and Frank Moe — enthusiastically endorsed the project.
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Martinson hoped to add more trail someday, and laid out a loop trail that begins at the west end of the Skyline Trail. He contacted Geoff Harrison, Assistant Superintendent of the Craig hotshot crew, and Superintendent Logan Blankenship about helping to clear brush and vegetation to create the new trail addition.
“The Hotshots have been invaluable in getting this project off the ground. They have the skills and the manpower to do a lot of trail building in a very short time. What they did in one day would have taken me years,” Martinson said.
“Craig Hotshots are happy to contribute to the development of more recreational opportunities for the residents of Moffat County,” Harrison said.
Blankenship said that the fire crew likes to give back to the community and the availability of recreational trails is something he can use to help recruit firefighters to his crew each season. It also allows them to get some real-world practice close to home.
“Building a trail is a lot like cutting a fire line, it’s just more curving. When we cut a fire line we usually go in a straight line,” Blankenship said. The Hotshots brought in over a dozen firefighters and cut the entire new trail in one day, which is now open to hikers and mountain bikers.
The new trail will likely be called the Goose Loop Trail as it curves around and reconnects to itself. Martinson first walked the proposed trail in the late fall several years ago when the fields were full of sandhill cranes and Canada geese.
The Skyline Trail can be accessed from Thompson Hill on the Ranney Street extension, or from the soccer field parking lot. A ride out and back on both trails is nearly 4 miles of rolling singletrack.
“There are some challenging sections but it is a really fun trail close to town,” Martinson said.
Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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