A History of the Ridgway Area Trails
To a mountain biker, singletrack exemplifies the highest quality riding experience. In 2004, Richard Durnan, searching for quality riding experiences, approached the Ridgway State Park and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with a proposal to develop a multi-use trail system in Ridgway Colorado on adjoining parcels of land these agencies manage. Identifying this land, which resides on the outskirts of the Town of Ridgway, as having ideal terrain, trail connectivity, and access, the process of obtaining permission for this project began.
The goal of the project is to develop a well-designed, sustainable, trail system that will enhance the quality of recreation in Ouray County. Although mountain bikers may be heading this project, it is not just for bikers. It is intended that this trail system be available to a variety of non-motorized users such as, trail runners, hikers, walkers, and horse back riders.
Development of a multi-use trail system will enhance the lives of not only the residents of Colorado’s Western Slope, but the numerous annual visitors from outside the region. This enhancement will come not only in the form of higher quality recreational opportunities, but will also increase the areas already growing tourism industry.
At this time, the process is well under way. New trails have been constructed on Town land and BLM and State Parks have approved construction of over 25 miles of new trail. Construction started on BLM land in July, 2013, continued through 2014 and will continue full speed ahead on BLM land through November 2015. RAT crews added 7 miles of new trail in August, September and October 2015. In the mean time, there is a wealth of good single and double track trails available to choose from within the area now. Get out there and enjoy it!
Time-Line of Activities Surrounding the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) Project
- Richard Durnan conceives of trail development project in Ridgway area on BLM and State Park / Bureau of Reclamation lands project
- April 11 – Richard Durnan has first meeting with BLM representatives and presents project concept
- September 13th, 2005 Richard Durnan begins a comprehensive inventory of the existing trail resources by GPS-ing the existing roads and trails.
- Outline for BLM lands portion developed in conjunction with BLM (see attachment)
- Spring- A GPS inventory of all existing trails and routes within the area (not previously done by the BLM) is finished and entered into the BLM database March 13 – Colorado
- Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) endorses RAT project (see attached letter)
- Spring – First Volunteer Trail Work day held to do maintenance on existing trailsAugust 15 – project plan letter submitted to Ridgway State Parks
- International Mountain Bike Association shows interest in project expressing to BLM Recreation Planner Julie Stotler-Jackson their interest in supporting the project
- December – Scope of Work/Conceptual Plan completed
- December – Final draft of Conceptual trail Plan submitted by Single Track Trails trail planner
- Town of Ridgway endorses project
- May – First RAT user trail map developed (see attached map)
- September 15 – Public meeting held with and at the request of the BLM, Julie Jackson, Outdoor Recreation Planner and Barbara Sharrow, Manager of the Uncompahgre Field
- Construction completed on a trail that connects to the RAT trails area in the Town of Ridgway Weaver Memorial Park
- October – RAT, in partnership with COPMOBA, applies for the 2009 Colorado State Trails Grant
- August Awarded GOCO Planning Grant, $8347.00 to help finance required NEPA studies
- Winter – Flagging and mapping of proposed routes completed by RAT (see attached map Flagged Proposed Trails)June 2010 – Archaeological clearances completed for BLM segment
- June – First Ridgway Mountain Bike Festival in support of RAT held and raises over $2300.00 for trails
- Summer 2011 – Ridgway State Park receives a GOCO Planning grant to fund required NEPA studies for the state park segment of the project (5.4 miles) September – Completed construction McCloud 9 Trail, a trail that connects to the RAT trails area in the Town of Ridgway Weaver Memorial Park
- November – Biological, Raptor/Aviary, Hydrological NEPA studies for BLM segment completed. Funding for all the NEPA studies came from the GOCO grant and COPMOBA’s Assistance Agreement with the BLM
- January – RAT chartered as local chapter of COPMOBA
- June – Second Ridgway Mountain Bike Festival in support of RAT held and raises more money for trails
- RAT builds more trails on the Weaver property
- BLM issues their draft EA outlining 4 options for trails
- Massive public comment period for BLM draft EA
- BLM issues Final EA and Record of Decision approving RAT trail system in June
- RAT Fest 3.0 raises $2500.00 in June 2013
- BLM and RAT/COPMMOBA volunteers build 1.8 miles of new trail in August 2013
- State Park and Bureau of Reclamation issue final EA and Record of Decision approving Rat trail system in August
- VOC, BLM and RAT begin 2014 construction effort on May 10th with ascent from County Road 10
- Americorps trail crew arrives on May 21st for 10 consecutive weeks of construction
- January – Ridgway State Park Manager Kirstin Copeland advises RAT that the Park has received construction funding sufficient to complete the State Park component (about 5 miles) of the RAT trail system by mid-summer 2015
- March 5 – Colorado Parks and Wildlife awards a $200,000.00 Large Trail Construction Grant to RAT/COPMOBA. These funds will be sufficient to complete construction of all unfinished trail elements (8.5 miles) of the BLM component of the RAT system, plus part of the related infrastruction.
- March – RAT negotiates contract terms with Sweet Sustainable Single Track, LLC and Southwest Conservation Corps to begin large-scale construction of new single-track in July 2015.
- July – RAT receives a fully executed contract for the award of $200,000.00 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Sweet Sustainable Single Track, LLC begins layout and design work for additional new trail
- August – RAT receives initial payment of $100,000.00 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife; SSST LLC continues work on design and layout of new trails; construction begins on additional new trail
- September – October – RAT trail crews add about 7.25 miles of new, sweet, sustainable single-track to the RAT network. RAT (with corporate parent COPMOBA, Inc) submits a new grant application to Colorado Parks and Wildlife seeking approximately $135,000.00 in additional grant funds for 2016. RAT will use the money to extend the system north to County Road 8, and to create connecter trails between the BLM trails and State Park trails scheduled for construction in 2016
- November – Ouray County Road and Bridge crews donate over $70,000.00 worth of time, equipment and materials to create a new parking lot at the County Road 10 trailhead. Rat partners with the Uncompahgre Chapter of COPMOBA to apply for a 2016 CPW Large Trail Construction Grant totaling $200,000.00 – RAT’s share, if successful, will be about $135,000.00. RAT, in partnership with Bennett Forge Works in Ridgway, utilizes $8,000.00 from REI to build and install a cool way-finding sign in Ridgway Town Park – the sign will help users locate RAT single-track and other recreational opportunities in and near Ridgway
- March – Colorado Parks and Wildlife awards $200,000.00 to COPMOBA, via a large-trail construction grant. $137,000.00 will pay to build 7.5+miles of new single track in the RAT system on BLM north of Ridgway.
- May – Mother RAT begets “Splinter” – a brand new descent on the Southeast face of the RAT system
- August – RAT/COPMOBA receives a signed contract from Governor Hickenlooper pursuant to our 2016 CPW Grant of $137,000.00. Construction commences on approximately 7.7 mile of additional new trails. Crews complete work on and open a new, double-black-diamond technical descent known as Exterminator. RAT also meets with BLM concerning the Uncompahgre Field Office’s Draft Resource Management Plan.
- October – RAT volunteers scope potential lines for up to 20 miles of new trails on BLM lands on and around McKenzie Butte, south of Colona Colorado. RAT meets with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to discuss wildlife management issues in and near the subject lands. RAT develops and submits comments to BLM concerning the Uncompahgre Field Offices Draft Resource Management Plan
- September – November – RAT trail crews add approximately 6 miles of brand new single track to the RAT system
- November – RAT meets with United States Forest Service to discuss RAT proposal for approval and construction of up to 50 miles of new trails on Mt. Baldy south of Ridgway
- December – With help from Amy Sharpe at Sparrow Trails, LLC, RAT submits preliminary proposals to BLM and USFS for new trail systems on and around both Mt. Baldy and McKenzie Butte
To learn more about the project’s development to date we encourage you to read the archived newsletters and visit the links to our HOME and NEWS pages.
About the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) Group
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 Ridgway Town, Ouray County, BLM and Colorado State lands. RAT/COPMOBA has approval from all 4 agencies to construct well over 30 miles of single trail. Construction started in 2011 and has accelerated the past 36 months. RAT has completed trails in Weaver Park (town land) and on BLM land north of town. In 2013 and 2014 RAT added approximately 8 miles of new trails, about 4 miles on Town land and the rest on BLM. Then, in March 2015, RAT the whole thing exploded as RAT received a $200,000.00 grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The money became available in August 2015, work began immediately and RAT add an additional 7.5 miles to BLM lands by the end of November 2015. Amazingly, CPW awarded another $200,000.00 to COPMOBA in March 2016, $137,000.00 of which is reserved to construct another – believe it or not – 7.5+ miles of new trail on BLM land in the Summer and Fall of 2016. Meanwhile, we built another 1.7 miles in May 2016. It’s hard to believe so much has happened and so much trail – really sweet, hand-crafted single track – has gone down in the past 3+ years, but it’s true!! Incredibly, that does not even include one foot of the 5+ miles slated for construction in the near future on State land, immediately adjacent to the BLM parcel!!!
Look Out for Big Changes – More New Trail Coming Soon!
Construction is in progress as you read this, and the RAT single track palette grows more diverse every day. In fact, RAT opened up a new trail at the end of the season last year called Exterminator. This section peels off to the left just after Big Cheese crests the West Escarpment drops through double-black-diamond terrain and connects to lower Rattus Maximus. Please click the trails tab at the top of this page to open a map for orientation.
With Exterminator,the RAT system now features, in addition to the familiar assortment of super-fun, fast, swooping, rolling, rollicking descents and long, gradual climbs – an extremely gnarly, rocky, technical descent.
Construction continues unabated.
Click here to view the original BLM proposal letter.