By Kate Agathon (courtesy of Campus Cycles)
Front Range mountain bikers, rejoice!
Thanks to a $250 thousand donation from the Trek Foundation, the Trek Trails at Virginia Canyon Mountain Bike Park (VCMP) system located in Idaho Springs is back on track to start Phase II construction this fall.
Nearly 25 years in the making (including property endowment in 1999), the park covers 400 acres and is located above the Argo Mine and Mill north of town.
“The Trek Foundation stepped up at the perfect time to help us complete this project. We couldn’t be more grateful for their partnership,” said Gary Moore, Executive Director of the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA).
Idaho Springs was selected primarily for its topography (steep and rugged) and southern exposure. According to Moore, mountain bike riders have built unofficial trails up there for decades primarily because it is steep and free of snow most of the year.
Approximately 12 miles of trail are planned for Phase II, which will include a hybrid multi-use and bike-only trail, and a top-to-bottom, bike-only intermediate trail on the system’s western side.
Due to rugged terrain, most of the trails will be rated blue and black, with some double-black technical trail features on the more advanced lines.
Said Moore, “We’ve been able to incorporate all the modern trail management techniques: designated-use (bike-only and hike-only), directional travel requirements, and separation by speed (the main trail in the system that travels top-to-bottom is open to hiking both ways, but bikes can only climb on it, when we’re not much faster than a hiker or runner).”
Trek Trails at VCMP will join a growing network of new trail projects supported by the Trek Foundation since the program kicked off in 2021.
According to Haley Ludwick, Trek Brand and Retail Campaigns and Programs Manager, the Trek Foundation is making big investments in public trail systems designed to get more access to high-quality bike experiences for mountain bike riders across the country.
“The Trek Foundation was established with the goals of protecting land, developing trail systems for public use, and providing more mountain bike riders access to great places to ride,” said Ludwick.
“We know one of the barriers to riding is having safe and accessible places to ride. This is why the Trek Foundation’s work is so important and why we are excited to work with COMBA in bringing Trek Trails at VCMP to fruition,” she added.
Cost and Time
Projects such as Trek Trails at VCMP can take years to achieve and come with a hefty price tag.
Even after securing a $345 thousand Great Outdoors Colorado grant last year and receiving this month’s $250 thousand donation from the Trek Foundation, Moore expects the total cost to build Trek Trails at VCMP to reach $1.4 million. Amassing that funding has been the biggest hurdle and delay, he said.
“Like most things, everything is more expensive with each passing day,” said Moore.
“Trail builders are in increasing demand and have more projects to choose from. They are using machines pretty much exclusively now, which carry additional costs for operators, equipment, maintenance, fuel, and higher insurance costs, etc.” he continued.
Trail costs can be as cheap as a few dollars per foot for easy trails in easy terrain, supported by volunteers, or they can be quite expensive reaching over $20 per linear foot.
Trek Trails at VCMP falls in this latter category due to the terrain, abundance of bedrock, number of corners, and constructed features like jumps and bridges.
As much as 80 percent of a project is worked out via COMBA’s advocacy efforts. Like the proverbial iceberg underwater, advocacy is the part that no one sees, but is the most critical to COMBA’s success.
“Working closely with our land managers to achieve their vision and goals, keeping our fellow stakeholders involved and on board, and ultimately getting the opportunity to build new experiences for mountain bike riders is the advocacy dance,” Moore explained.
While COMBA will not have any other major construction projects running concurrently with Trek Trails at VCMP, some work has been planned for the Indian Creek Recreational Area (located near Roxborough State Park), but the master plan is not complete.
Depending on weather, COMBA hopes to have Trek Trails at VCMP ready to ride next spring.
To learn more about COMBA or make a donation, click here.