Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) is both a very effective non-profit, NGO, dedicated to trail advocacy and construction, and a very fun system of single track trail in and around Ridgway, Colorado. RAT the organization is the local chapter of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, Inc. (COPMOBA). COPMOBA has been around since 1989, advocating for and constructing trails (including Kokopelli’s Trail and the Grand Loop Trail) all over Western Colorado.
Building on the COPMOBA legacy, RAT has created an amazingly accessible trail system right in and around Ridgway. RAT spent 8 years advocating for the project on Town, BLM and State lands. The group has approval from all three agencies to construct over 25 miles of new single track. Construction started in 2011 and has accelerated the past 12 months. RAT has completed trails in Weaver Park (town land) and on BLM land north of town. RAT plans to add at least 15 miles of new trail this summer (2014).
ONE CONSTRUCTION GRANT IN PROGRESS, ONE AWARDED – RAT SEEKS PARKS AND TRAILS GRANT – STATE PARK RECEIVES TRAIL CONSTRUCTION GRANT
Please help RAT snag a $200,000.00 parks and trails grant by contacting Amy Sharp at Sparrow Consulting. She is writing a CO Parks and Wildlife construction grant for COPMOBA-Sneffels Chapter (RAT) this year. Funding will be awarded in early 2015 and will pay primarily for trail construction and one trailhead (plus a few other perks) for the Ridgway Trails Project (on the BLM side). Amy needs letters of support for the application. If you are interested in helping out (as an individual or business), email Amy and she will provide you with the details. Thanks in advance! Amy Sharp – email@example.com
Earlier this spring, Ridgway State Park applied through the state park system for a grant money to continue construction efforts on the RAT trail system through the summer and fall of 2014. This week Kirstin Copeland at the Park told us the request for funding has been granted. We do not know the exact amount of the grant at this time, but Kirstin informs us that “Ridgway did get funded for a paid trail crew and some infrastructure (gates etc.).” She also says the Park will retain the services of Scott Vanderplaats to supervise construction crews through this construction season. RAT representatives will meet with Kristen, Scott and BLM personnel on August 7th to develop a definite plan for further construction efforts this season. That plan will include some organized volunteer work dates, so stay tuned for more specific information about when you can help build trail and grow the RAT network.
SCC TRAIL CREW SHREDS FOR RAT
On June 16 a crew of 8 Trail Blazers from Southwest Conservation Corps in Durango arrived in Ridgway to build trail for RAT/COPMOBA and BLM. These folks do not dither, fritter or thrash around. They shred dirt like a Sutter 300 Mini Dozer burning nitro-methane. Scott has put them to work cutting in a new bench along the west side of the ridge rising from the top of Amateur Hour up to the Four Corners intersection. This is a difficult build and you will not believe the progress they have made in 3 days of effort. Meanwhile, Americorps continues the steady process of expanding our system west of the gravel pit road. With these two crews plowing rapidly ahead, by the end of our Volunteer Weekend on June 22, we will have a complete, single track loop circling around and up from about the intersection of County Roads 10 and 10B, past the gravel pit, up to Four Corners, and back down through the Hood and Disneyland. RAT looks forward to welcoming all volunteers on June 21 and 22. We will rendezvous at the intersection of County Roads 10 and 10B, then proceed to the work location.
NEW TRAIL EVERY DAY
The RAT single track palette grows more diverse every day. As of June 7, 2014, we have about 9.3 miles of narrow-gauge from Weaver Park inside town limits to the new construction across Highway 550. AmeriCorps has created almost 4 miles of that in the past 3.5 weeks. You can now get in 20 miles and 2300 vertical feet with a ride from town, through Weaver Park and River Sage, up to Dutch Charlie on State Park land, cross 550 and up to four-corners, then multiple descents and climbs of the south face trail system. That will cover almost all our single track, include no re-tread, and involve only about 30 seconds of actual road riding. The rest is trail, from the concrete river walk, through the groomed Park trails, some two-track jeep trail and all that sweet, sustainable single-track. It just keeps getting better.
Massive 2014 Construction Effort Now Underway
Biking around Ridgway gets more exciting all the time. The weekend of May 10-11, 2014, 70+ volunteers, led by VOC and BLM staff kicked off an intense, 10-week push to finish 20 miles of brand new single-track, multi-use trail just north of Ridgway. The crew made a huge dent in a lynch-pin of the RAT system: the steep, access climb up from County Road 10, which, when finished, will feature 6, rock-cribbed, cut-and-fill, switch-back turns.
Then, on May 21, RAT/COPMOBA and BLM welcomed a crew of 10 AMERICORPS trail-builders, who will spend a total of 9 weeks on the project, working an average of 40 hours each per week on our system. AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18-24. AmeriCorps NCCC strengthens communities and develops leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with non-profits, local municipalities, state governments, federal government, national and state parks, Indian tribes, and schools, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned to. These enthusiastic, hard-working kids will live on the BLM side of the RAT system and at Dutch Charlie Campground in Ridgway Reservoir State Park, mostly under canvas tents, throughout their time with us. Our Americorps crew has already completed a brand new trail. The trail starts just below the power station and immediately east of the gravel pit on the BLM (South) side of our system. You will find a new trail sign at its upper terminus. It weaves and swoops, in-and-out of a gully, connecting at its lower terminus about half-way down Lower Disneyland.
On June 16, a crew of 10 trail-builders from Southwest Conservation Corps will join the Americorps group for 8 consecutive, 10-hour days of heavy-duty trail construction. Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) provides young women and men with structured, safe and challenging service and educational opportunities through projects that promote personal growth, the development of social skills, and an ethic of natural resource stewardship. The SCC crew coming to Ridgway will have deep experience in single-track construction and will take a huge bite out the the work remaining when they arrive.
Plus: During the first two weeks in July, RAT’s trail boss, Scott Vanderplaats, will bring a crew of 10 trustees from the Delta Correctional Center to help push our system to the earliest possible completion: right now. This crew worked with Scott last summer on our system and they definitely kick butt on dirt and rock!! We will put them to work on some of the toughest, most technical sections of our system.
RAT/COPMOBA and BLM will welcome volunteers to supplement the construction effort on three evenings in June and July – June 11, June 25 and July 9. On those dates our Americorps crew will begin work at 11:00a.m. and continue working until 8:00p.m. At 5:30pm on each of those dates volunteers will gather at the new trail head on County Rd. 10, just east of Second Chance Animal Shelter. Volunteers will need to sign in and provide waivers of liability to BLM and RAT/COPMOBA. Volunteers will be assigned to crews and will receive specific work details following sign-in.
The busy construction schedule has required a lot of organizational effort from the RAT/COPMOBA local committee members. Dealing with those issues has left no spare time to organize and stage RATFEST, our annual single track celebration. While we normally host that party the first Saturday in June, this year we’ve postponed it until the first or second Saturday in September, with the exact date not yet determined. Local Committee members will solidify that date shortly and post it to this website and the the Ridgway Area Trails Facebook Page, as well as to the COPMOBA website, copmoba.org. RAT also plans to organize and stage additional volunteer work days early this fall. Those dates and related details will also be posted to our websites. If the summer goes as planned, we will have put in over 5000 man-hours of new-trail construction on our system. The results will make our RAT System one of the premier single track resources in Southwestern Colorado. Then we’ll definitely have something to celebrate!!
Stay tuned for more news, please join us on one or all of our volunteer days, and by all means get out and have some fun on our new trails right now!!!