New mountain bike trail system in sight for New Castle’s Burning Mountain; Added planned South Canyon bike park

A fall 2021 view looking west over New Castle, including Burning Mountain in the distance, where a new cycleway system is planned.
Chelsea Independent/Post Independent

New Castle’s iconic Burning Mountain could host the next new network of mountain bike trails.

That and a new feature of the existing South Canyon trail system are the subject of two separate funding applications before the Garfield County commissioners.

In 2020, a landowner in Burning Mountain, just west of New Castle, offered to work with the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association to establish a network of trails, commissioners told Monday morning Mike Pritchard, executive director of the RFMBA.



An initial feasibility study identified potential trail alignments, including about 9 miles of trails in the first of two phases, Pritchard said.

“Views from many trail alignments include the Colorado River, I-70 and the Flat Tops to the north,” Pritchard wrote in a funding application before commissioners. “Most trails are designed for two-way foot and bicycle traffic, with directional use recommended for bicycles.”



A separate hiking trail is included in the second phase of development, Pritchard said.

Combined with the existing trail system on Bureau of Land Management property north of New Castle, the additional trails could provide a new draw for local outdoor enthusiasts and visitors, he said.

Pritchard was before county commissioners seeking two separate grants, both of which could come from the county’s Conservation Trust Fund, he proposed.

The first would be to invest $10,000 in the Burning Mountain project, the first phase of which is estimated at $255,000.

Pritchard is also working with the Town of New Castle for $100,000 over two years, in addition to $60,000 in proceeds from New Castle Trails’ Rides & Reggae Festival in August this year and next.

The RFMBA would provide an additional $50,000 in base grants, as well as in-kind volunteer support for trail construction when the time comes.

Pritchard said his group hopes to begin construction on the trail project this year.

Additionally, RFMBA is seeking $10,000 in conservation trust funds to build a new bike park in Glenwood Springs’ South Canyon trail system.

Partial funding is already secured and carried over from previous years to build the new Alpine Slide Trail feature.

“This trail will provide a directional experience suitable for developing intermediate and advanced bike handling skills in a fun, safe, and beautiful environment,” Pritchard wrote in the second application.

The trail would be located where the old alpine slide attraction used to be – parts of which remain and will need to be removed to make way for the new bike park.

“This trail will be located adjacent to and north of the nearby landfill entrance, accessible by the existing tram trail,” Pritchard wrote.

The trail would total about 1 mile, using rocks and soil on site, as well as wood and steel elements, he said.

Cost estimates for the South Canyon project are around $80,000, he said.

RFMBA is working with the Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Department to develop the new trail feature.

The trail projects were among several nonprofit and Conservation Trust discretionary grant applications before commissioners on Monday as part of their first-quarter funding round.

Other demands included: Community Counts Colorado, $10,000; KSUN Community Radio, Battlement Mesa, $5,000; West Elk Trails, $3,000; New Castle Trails Rides and Reggae Support, $5,000; Roaring Fork Branch, $5,000; GlenX Career Expo, $3,000; Youthentity, $5,000.

County commissioners are expected to decide on the various grant applications at their February 22 meeting.

Senior Reporter/Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]

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