Mountain biking enthusiasts will soon be able to ride nearly 7 miles of new trails connecting Durango Mesa Park to the Horse Gulch trail system.
Construction is wrapping up ahead of a Sept. 5 public hearing about a land annexation, increasing the city’s footprint by 1,928 acres.
Durango Mesa Park board member Gaige Sippy said on Thursday construction of six new bike trails is about 75% complete. He has already ridden some of them and said they are “world class.”
The city partnered with the Durango Mesa Park to build the trails. Work started in the spring and should be completed this fall. Sippy said one good rain would help to smooth out the trails.
But the monsoon season is unusually late this year.
“If you've ever been on a new trail that hasn't been rained on, they're much better after they've been rained on,” Sippy said. “And so we're kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature right now.”
Still, the trails are slated to open this fall, he said.
Three of the six new trails will be the city’s first downhill-only bike trails. Sippy said they were built with that purpose in mind, neatly sculpted and compacted.
The freedom to build more diverse trails is one reason a bike park was pursued, Sippy said. He said he’s extremely happy with the trail segments completed so far.
“I've ridden a lot of places in the world, and they're world class trails. And I think that the community is going to be thrilled to have it, and it ranges from beginner to more advanced (trails),” he said.
One of the three downhill directional flow trails is designed for beginning mountain bikers and to accommodate adaptive sports athletes and their adaptive cycles, according to Sippy.
The three nondirectional flow trails were designed for multiple uses, whether hiking, biking or running.
“It's a good sampling of what's to come for the rest of the mesa,” Sippy said.
Conceptually, the trails serve several purposes, he said. They are demonstration trails intended to give riders a taste of what future developments in Durango Mesa Park will have to offer. They also connect Horse Gulch to Durango Mesa Park, and that connectivity will spread out mountain bike and pedestrian traffic, decongesting the Horse Gulch trailhead.
Sippy said Durango Mesa Park has the largest footprint for a bike park in the United States and possibly in all of North America.
Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, a successful and celebrated bike park, is around 40 acres. By comparison, the city of Durango has over 80 acres reserved for bike park development on the mesa.
“Over time, I think we will develop that 80 acres in its entirety for that usage,” Sippy said.
The demonstration trails are only the beginning of major developments planned for Durango Mesa Park.
Over 2022 and 2023, the city has appropriated $2.2 million for the trails project and plans to appropriate another $2 million in 2024 to continue building the park, according to a news release.
Moira Compton, executive director of Durango Mesa Park Foundation, said in the release the bike park will be the “first and foremost community space where people of all ages will be able to congregate, enjoy the space and the incredible views.”