More than 100 mountain bikers filled the parking lot of the Horse Gulch trailhead off East Third Street Thursday to celebrate the ‘monumental’ ribbon-cutting of 7 miles of demonstration trails, which are just a taste of what’s to come with future development of Durango Mesa Park.
People clapped, cheered and whistled throughout the ceremony, anxiously awaiting the ribbon-cutting to hit the new multi-direction trail linking the trailhead at Horse Gulch to The Hub at Durango Mesa Park. Durango Mesa Park will serve as a central area connecting trail systems together as development of the park continues in ensuing years.
Durango resident Tracey Belt, who attended the opening ceremony on her mountain bike, said it’s wonderful to see the trails “built on top of one another and linked together to form kind of a united (park),” adding that “there’s something for everybody.”
Durango Mesa Park Foundation executive director Moira Montrose-Compton said the official opening of the trails are the result of a quickly realized project that percolated in 2021.
“Simply put, we knew our community wanted action and did not want to continue to hear about the planning required to make the future of Durango Mesa Park a reality,” so the foundation pursued building out the trails, Montrose-Compton said.
“These trails are the start of what is to come for Durango Mesa Park,” she said. “They will provide future connection to the bike park, which will also include many gathering places for non-cyclists and families of all ages, as well as future amenities such as a mountain sports park.”
A master plan rendering of the bike park, planned for construction at Durango Mesa Park next year, was available at the ceremony. It displays locations of future amenities planned for the mesa, including a dog park, adaptive sports park, BMX facility, flexible event spaces and trails galore.
Montrose-Compton said road improvements needed for public access to the park will begin in 2024.
Durango Mesa Park Foundation board member Gaige Sippy said the demonstration trails “checked a lot of boxes” of features requested by Durango cycling enthusiasts, including adaptive sports trails, strictly downhill directional routes, jump lines and flow trails.
He said pedal-assist Class 1 electric bikes are also allowed on the Durango Mesa trails. The trails have signage to warn where they are not permitted.
Maps of the new trails are posted at the Horse Gulch trailhead and on the mesa.
Durango Mayor Melissa Youssef and several City Council members attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Youssef said the demonstration trails are “insanely awesome,” “top notch,” “phenomenal” and a “testament” to the Durango community’s collaborative spirit.
“The way that these trails were fabricated, built and designed, with the jumps, the berms, the features (including tabletop jumps), the roller-coaster descent – you will have a smile on your face the whole time,” she said.
The trails were rock-solidly designed to minimize environmental impact, preserve the trails for years to come and preserve Durango Mesa’s natural beauty. And the beauty is “epic,” Youssef said.
“The scenery, the views, the sunrises, the sunsets. They are going to be epic. Between the beauty and the world-class features, this will be a draw to bikers far and wide. I think it also will have an impact as a result on our macro economy over time. Another economic driver for our community,” she said.
She also said Durango Mesa Park is a “shining example of what we can achieve when we come together as a community” and the trails represent Durango’s “commitment to health, wellness and enjoyment of the outdoors.”
Montrose-Compton said the top of Durango Mesa is private, reminding mountain bikers to be respectful of private property and neighbors.
“My dad wore a shirt that always said, ‘There’s no such thing as too much fun.’ That being said, make sure everyone on the trails is having fun,” she said. “Be courteous to other users. Stop, chat with each other. Look at the view – look at the view. And also, say ‘hello’ as you pass. It is the Durango way, and let’s continue to keep it that way.”
Durango resident Stephanie Trudeaux said “it’s freaking awesome” that the trails are now open.
Another resident, Julio Gomez, said he rides for the adrenaline and intensity, and downhill directional trails are just the thing he needs to get his fix.
“It looks nice and flowy. Super fun. I think it’s great, I’m super excited,” he said.
The demonstration trails are only a small piece of what Durango Mesa Park, eight years in the making, will have to offer once it is finally completed.
The city of Durango took its own step toward future construction at the park when it recently approved the annexation of 1,928 acres of mesa land into city limits. The long-anticipated annexation will allow further development of the park in 2024 and the ensuing years.