Editorial: Blazing a trail to recreational excellence in Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: Blazing a trail to recreational excellence in Moffat County

The spring hiking and camping season is upon us, and we're gratified to see so many groups joining forces and working together to upgrade and enhance our outdoor recreational activities here in Moffat County.

Perhaps most visibly, work began last week on a project to improve and expand several trails on Cedar Mountain, about seven miles northwest of Craig.

Currently, several groups are working on a 0.32-mile stretch of beginner trail, intended to create a gentler slope to reach the Stearns Trail; a 0.9-mile route along the mountain’s southern ridge; and a 0.35-mile entrance trail that will connect the ridge-top trail to the turn-off area off Moffat County Road 7.

The trails are a collaboration between the Bureau of Land Management and several organizations, including the newly formed MOCO Trails group, the Routt County Riders, the Craig Hotshots, the BLM’s wildland firefighting crew, a local Boy Scout troop and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.

The ultimate goal is to create about 7 miles of new trail on the mountain, including routes for a range of non-motorized vehicles.

According to Clark Cleverly, an avid mountain biker and one of the organizers of the MOCO Trails group, the goal is to build, maintain and improve trails for bikers, hikers and equestrians.

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Though Cleverly acknowledge part of the hope is to attract outdoor enthusiasts to Moffat County, which is snow-free about three months longer than neighboring Routt County, the principal focus is to provide better recreational opportunities for residents.

“We want to support the youth of the community and give them another area to go and have fun, be outside, get off cell phones or alcohol, drugs — whatever it might be," Cleverly told the Craig Press earlier this year.

And the Cedar Mountain project is just the tip of the iceberg. Other outdoor improvement projects, both completed and in the works, include the following.

  • MOCO Trails and BLM staff also hope to expand into Moffat County, establishing bike and off-highway vehicle trails in the area of Duffy Mountain and the Little Yampa Canyon.
  • The Moffat County Tourism Association, with the cooperation of the BLM and the help of a number of volunteers, recently installed new interpretive signage in the Sand Wash Basin, which is not only home to one of the last wild horse herds in the United States, but also serves as a popular destination for campers and off-road enthusiasts. This new signage will not only enhance the experiences of visitors to the basin, it will also serve to decrease the chances for conflict between human guests and wildlife.
  • Veterans from The Mission Continues were among a 15-person team that floated the Yampa River south of Craig in early May to help improve campsites along a 32-mile stretch of the river that runs through the Little Yampa Canyon Special Recreation Management Area.
  • The city of Craig is looking to expand trails at Loudy-Simpson Park to connect the county park to downtown Craig and, ultimately, Cedar Mountain.

City Parks and recreation Director Dave Pike said the city will soon begin paving the trail adjacent to B Street, and the city has also funded a trail that would run adjacent to U.S. Highway 40, from the Loaf n Jug through the Ridgeview subdivision.

The city has also sought input from MOCO Trails in developing its new master plan for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Finally, members of MOCO Trails are working to advance a proposed trail system on the ridge on the southern side of Loudy-Simpson, and the county is in discussions with the BLM about additional off-road vehicle trails.

These are positive developments for Moffat County. Not only will the work serve to draw more visitors — and tourism revenue — to the city and county, it will also greatly enhance our own recreational opportunities.

But even as we celebrate these positive developments in our community, we recognize that many of our residents are concerned these efforts will ultimately serve as a detriment to the natural beauty of the area and destroy the very reason many of us choose to reside here.

We very often hear the comment, "We don't want to be Steamboat Springs," and we agree. We don't want to be Steamboat Springs. What we do want is to be the best version of Craig and Moffat County we can be, and these projects to improve recreational opportunities will serve to advance that goal.

Not only will these upgrades bring in more tourists and perhaps spur the creation of more outdoor-type businesses, it will make Moffat County a more pleasant place for us all to live.

In our view, that's a win-win all the way around.

Editorial Board

Renee Campbell, publisher

Jim Patterson, editor

Sasha Nelson, reporter

Brian MacKenzie, community representative

Shannon Moore, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.