Trail nirvana: Grand Hogback Trails offers elevated mountain biking

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan is mountain biking the Rifle Arch trail with his dog Misu on a hot morning north of Rifle.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Take two parts of soft, hand-crafted singletrack, a few technical rock crossing strokes, and a dollop full of descents steep enough to make your stomach drop.

Voila: You have a well-equipped mountain bike course. What some residents or visitors to the Roaring Fork Valley may not realize, however, is that these expertly designed trails exist locally and are ready to be explored.

The Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization (RAMBO) seeks to build and maintain mountain bike trails in the Rifle area. One of RAMBO’s main goals is to make the town of Rifle a new hot spot for avid mountain bikers. RAMBO has recently developed trails for those who are new to the sport to those who have been playing the sport for years.

RAMBO was fortunate to have the opportunity to develop an unspoiled area covering 2,200 acres of the Bureau of Land Management near the Rifle Arch hiking area. Since then, with help from Gumption Trailworks, RAMBO has developed the first 6-mile section of a technical cross-country mountain bike loop named the Grand Hogback Trail System and plans to hopefully develop an additional 12 miles. of trails with the help of additional funding from the public.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes switchbacks downhill while mountain biking on the new Rifle Arch mountain biking trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“It really is a unique experience for this whole area,” said Gary Miller, RAMBO board member and self-diagnosed bicycle addict. “The Grand Hogback Trail appeals to a wide range of abilities, from experts to those new to the sport.”

The trail was expertly designed by Aaron Mattix of Gumption Trail Works who uses pickaxes, rakes, and backhoes to create the trail. Volunteers help Mattix bring his trail designs to life by giving him a hand in charting the trail.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes switchbacks downhill while mountain biking on the new Rifle Arch mountain biking trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Grand Hogback Trail is unique in that it was designed from the ground up with no other game trails in the area. The trail offers a fair amount of rock gardens, steep drops, and other technical features.

“I love the way the trails flow. There are some pretty exposed spots, but it’s not very dangerous, so there is a pleasant flow in the trail system, ”said Thomas Sullivan, who walks the trail every week with his dog Misu who runs to his side. sides.

If the Grand Hogback Trail system is too technical for someone’s current skill level, the Town of Rifle offers other soft surface trail systems as well, like the Highland Trail System which is found within Boundaries of the city.

Rifle resident Tom Sullivan takes switchbacks downhill while mountain biking on the new Rifle Arch mountain biking trail.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“The Highland Trail system offers a 3 mile inner loop and an outer loop that will total up to 5 miles. The Highland Trail could be a trail to take before getting to Grand Hogback, which tends to have more difficult characteristics than Highland, ”Miller said of the difference between the two trails.

RAMBO recently started hosting group outings for the community called Bikes ‘n’ Brews. Group walks, which are growing in popularity, usually take place on the first Thursday of each month. Once the ride is over, cyclists tend to meet up for local food and drink, allowing cyclists to engage with other members of the mountain biking community.

“The mission of these group rides is to introduce the local trail system to local cyclists with multiple skills,” Miller said. “We don’t want people to misunderstand their skill level on a trail. “

Miller has also developed a small skills course in Deerfield Park, with turns that mimic what cyclists will see on the Grand Hogback trails. This course allows cyclists the opportunity to practice or warm up their mountain biking skills before heading to Highland or even Grand Hogback.

The monthly group ride saw all family members, young and old riders participate in the event to improve their hiking skills and have a great time on the trails. The event also showed attendees how connected the cycle paths and Rifle cycle paths are.

“It’s totally possible to go from trail to trail through Rifle using as few roads as possible, and we want people to know that as best we can,” Miller said.

RAMBO hopes to bring an experience like no other to anyone who uses the trails. “Trails are ultimately for people who want to accidentally see a deer or fox and have a wooded experience on a nice, soft-surfaced trail rather than a paved path or road,” Miller said.

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