In the last 2 years I have been working with the Mancos Trails Group (MTG) to maintain and build public use trails in our area. At first it was a selfish endeavor: I wanted to learn how to build and maintain trails on my land. There is little information online that I was able to find about trail building and maintenance. Especially the building part.
By volunteering with the MTG I have learned a lot and increased my confidence in building and maintaining trails. While I have been working on the trails, I have also gotten to know the people in the group much better. They are from all walks of life but share one goal in common: building and maintaining trails that anyone can hike, bike, or horseback.
There are a lot of benefits to having good trails near your home. Besides connecting with nature and appreciating the area you live in, they can also help attract people to your area for recreation. Those people end up staying at lodges and eating at restaurants. This creates economic diversity and benefits the entire community.
Mancos and the surrounding county are relatively poor compared to the rest of the state of Colorado. We are at the far end of the state from Denver which means we don’t get a lot of people just stopping by to spend their money. Durango is about 30 minutes away and grabs the majority of tourist activity in the area.
We have Mesa Verde National Park which is a big attraction, but you cannot mountain bike in the park, and one to two days is enough time to see all the sights. There are some other lesser known state parks in the area but those are mainly for hiking. Of the trails that are leftover we do have a good amount of biking friendly trails, but they are not in the town of Mancos. At the end of the day we need more trails here.
This summer we made some amazing strides towards creating more trails in the Chicken Creek Nordic Center and at the Aqueduct. While these areas are located just a few miles from each other, they could not be more different. Since Chicken Creek it at a higher elevation, it has Ponderosa Pines that reach high into the sky, and create a lot of shade. There are also a number of creek crossings. The Aqueduct is lower in elevation and is considered high desert. The trees are Pinon and Juniper, and there is a little bit of cactus to keep you on your toes. There is no water and the terrain is a bit more challenging.
In both areas we created new trails using a mixture of volunteers, paid trail workers, and a professional trail builder. The volunteer work was a lot of fun but the trail workers and builder made the most progress by a considerable amount. The money for these activities was generated by a combination of grants and cash donations.
Next summer the goal is to finish the Aqueduct trails, which could be done if we can raise enough money. Currently we could probably increase our grant writing activity, but also look at expanding where we are getting donations from. It would be awesome to have another 8 miles of awesome trails in our area. This would help us appreciate what we have, and bring more people to visit and live in the area.