Grand Hogback Phase 1 Details

September 10, 2020

Two years after the first discussion with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about the idea of a trail system at the base of the Grand Hogback, RAMBO and our partners have started the first phases of construction on the Grand Hogback Trail System with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and RAMBO crew leaders.

We were fortunate in several factors accelerating the often tedious process of bureaucratic approval.

Read the article published in the Rifle Citizen Telegram.

Many folks have asked us how we’ve been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. In addition to the incredible community partners we have, we put together a brief overview for posterity sake:

In 2018, The BLM approached RAMBO with the suggestion of a trail network near the Rifle Arch area as an alternative to user conflict in the Hubbard Mesa area. Much of the proposed area had been cleared for wildlife habitat improvement, but the lack of water prevented it from becoming viable habitat. With no motorized access, and the hiking trail to Rifle Arch the only trail in the 2,200 acre area, it was a rare opportunity to establish a trail system from a blank slate.

Mike Pritchard of Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association proved essential support in guiding this project from conception & planning to funding & construction. His experience and relationship with the BLM and related agencies has allowed us to maximize the potential of  this project, that would have otherwise been quite daunting.

The City of Rifle, and Board of County Commissioners in Garfield County have been enthusiastic partners in helping move this project from concept to reality. Having the support of our local government has been a huge plus in establishing the legitimacy of this project.

A little over a year ago, Joey Klein of IMBA Trail Solutions, and Aaron Mattix of Rifle-based Gumption Trail Works, laid out the core of the 18 mile system for Phase 1. Much thought and collaboration went into finding the most unique aspects of the terrain, scenic vistas, and logistical components such as intersections, and sustainability.

With the trail design complete, the alignments were reviewed in a study by the National Environmental Protection Agency to assess any potential impact to wildlife, as well as archaeological, and paleontology studies. Minor adjustments were made to protect certain sites, and in late June 2020 we received official clearance to proceed with construction.

Given the current uncertainty of COVID-19, and the inadequate parking facilities, we will limiting our volunteer events to 10 individuals + a crew leader at each of our upcoming volunteer dig days. More info on that below!

RAMBO Crew Leader training on a hot and smoky day in early August

The City of Rifle is working with the BLM, and CDOT to move forward with parking lot design, and construction as soon as possible.

Gumption Trail Works will be partnering with local builder Dante Harmony to start machine construction in early September of the routes climbing & descending the steep sides of the alluvial mesas. While much of the emphasis in Phase 1 is on minimal impact, hand-built singletrack, the heavy benching, and switchback construction necessary to create rideable, sustainable trail on steep slopes makes machinery the most effective way to complete these sections.

A last-minute availability by the local junior high Rocky Mountain Youth Corps kick-started the first quarter mile of trail in late July, and the first RAMBO Crew Leader training the following weekend brought us to approximately a half mile of trail completed by the end of August. Creating minimal impact trail in the delicate desert environment can be a challenging balance of doing just the right amount of work – enough to be sustainable, but not so much as to disrupt the slow equilibrium of nature. The crew of local RMYC and RAMBO volunteers deserve props for achieving this balance; leaving behind trail that looks like an especially fortuitous game trail winding along the edge of the mesa, with sweeping views of the Upper Colorado River Valley.

We are excited to be bringing these new trails to life that will showcase the unique topography, and wide-ranging vistas of Rifle. Current projections are to have Phase 1 completed by early winter of 2020.