Approximately 25 workers from the Forest Service offices in Monticello and Moab gathered on June 6 near the Fourth Hole at the Hideout Golf Course in Monticello. The young volunteers were under the direction of Recreation Specialist Zachary Lowe and Brian Murdock, the Recreation and Wilderness Director of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The volunteers spent the day “grubbing out” a 1.2 mile section of single-track mountain bike trail. The 34” wide swath will soon connect other sections of trail that will stretch from Loyds Lake to the already existing trail system at the Monticello Uranium Mill Site.
Nearly eleven miles of single track mountain bike trail is in the process of being built. The project is funded with a grant that was secured by Monticello City two years ago, when Natalie Randall was the city recreation manager.
Similar trail systems are also under consideration in the Blanding and Bluff areas.
The combined effort of the Forest Service, Monticello City (currently under the direction of Jeremy Avondet and his summer crew), and some enthusiastic mountain bikers are working to complete the project by October 1.
This is the first trail system in San Juan County and is designed by Scott Escott. The foundation for Escott’s expertise comes from serving for ten years as the Trail Mix coordinator for Grand County, a group which combines resources and manpower from the Moab City, BLM and Forest Service for building mountain bike trails.
Escott has also designed trails for several Utah State Parks, including Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Escalante, Green River, and a proposed Goosenecks Trail that was put on hold with the designation of the Bears Ears Monument.
In general, the trail building process begins with a good design, and Escott says that a good design needs to be resistant to water erosion and should include lots of turns and switchbacks. Enough grade reversals keep water from affecting the trail.
On the segment of trail constructed last week, the path winds its way through scrub oak and sage brush and crosses a golf cart path just once as it travels through the Hideout.
Escott explains, “It has been great to work with the City of Monticello. Natalie and Jeremy have been wonderful and everyone at the City offices has been very accommodating.”
Just a few years ago, there were very few multiple use trails and two-track roads on the Abajo Mountains. Near Monticello, there were only the fantastic walking paths at Loyds Lake and the Mill Site.
Over recent years, the new trail system has been in progress, with a few sections built every year. The Canyon County Youth Corps, summer city crews, and Boy Scout groups have put in a lot of work clearing trails.
Now, with a total of eleven miles of trails nearing completion in and near Monticello, there are a growing number of fun places for mountain bikers and trail runners to play.
A group of local riders are meeting each Thursday evening for rides in the Monticello area. Meet at ROAM Industry on North Main Street at 6 p.m.