As a rugged mountain area slated for a new housing development, Twin Buttes will never be confused for an amusement park, but the thrill of cycling there is “almost like a roller coaster,” said mountain biker Mitch Steed.
“It brings out your inner child,” said another cyclist, Linda Bunk.
Because of the gentle grade of trails built over former railroad paths that once connected to a mining camp, the climb is not too strenuous, either, said Jeff Watson, the father of three children between the of ages 9 and 12.
The trails are “real kid-friendly. I bring my kids here, and they love it,” Watson said.
The city of Durango this week announced the opening of the Twin Buttes Open Space and Trail System, which includes 580 acres of public open space and 10 miles of natural surface trails paved by volunteers from a local nonprofit organization, Trails 2000.
The completion of a soft trail loop prompted the announcement, said Kevin Hall, the city’s open lands director, but the area has gone through a soft opening for the last several months.
“Word gets out real fast in a community like this,” said Watson, who likes to ride around Twin Buttes two to three times a week.
The area is so convenient to town, he said.
An informal trailhead and dirt parking lot is just west of the Giant gas station, 20453 U.S. Highway 160, which is about a mile and a half west of downtown, but the trailhead will eventually change once the area becomes developed for homes, said Marc Snider, a spokesman for the Twin Buttes of Durango development.
The developer is scheduled to begin selling lots during winter with home construction expected to begin next summer, Snider said.
The city and developer cooperated on the project since the trails will connect to the Twin Buttes neighborhoods, which will be built on 150 acres separate from the city’s 580 acres of open space.
The city spent about a $1 million from a dedicated sales tax fund to acquire 280 acres with the other 200 acres donated by the Pauls family, who formerly had a ranch at Twin Buttes, Hall said.
While the recreation area already has become popular with mountain bikers, the trails can also used by hikers, horseback riders, runners and cross country skiers, although some areas will be closed in the winter to protect the habitat of big game like deer and elk, Hall said.
The city’s long-term vision is for the Twin Butte trails to link to the Animas River Trail and to nearby recreation areas, such Overend Mountain Park, Hall said.
“But that’s really long-range planning,” Hall said.
Steed, the mountain biker, said the trails at Twin Buttes have already saved him several car trips.
“The downhill (ride) reminds me of Phil’s World,” said Steed, referring to a popular mountain bike park outside Cortez.
Steed added, “You no longer have to drive to Cortez to get some rollers.”