Dolores officials have successfully negotiated an easement through private property to allow construction of a new trail from town to the House Creek campground.
The town board voted to approve the arrangement, which allows for a 20-foot wide, approximate 600-foot easement through Mary Dufur's property on the west end of town near the cemetery.
In exchange for the perpetual easement, the Dufers were granted a 1/2-acre parcel of nearby land in city limits to build a residence on.
The deal was key to beginning construction of the initially named McPhee Overlook trail, an 8-mile non-motorized route connecting Dolores with the Boggy Draw trail system.
"Without this access, we were kind of stymied. Otherwise the trailhead would have had to been engineered to climb up ledges further away where there are cultural resources," said Town Manager Ryan Mahoney. "The next step is to secure grant money for construction of the trailhead."
The majority of the route will be installed by the Forest Service, which approved the trail in the recently released Boggy-Glade Travel Management Plan.
Dolores has become a mountain biking hub in the region, and a hardy crew of volunteer trail builders are also on hand to assist.
The easement allows for construction and maintenance of the trail through private land and the passage of non-motorized recreationists. Liability insurance for the easement will be held by the town.
The trailhead will begin between the old dirt-bike track and the cemetery, and continue through switchbacks up Granath Mesa behind the prominent rock outcrop. From there it will connect to Forest Service land on the mesa.
"We will be doing a lot of walking to lay out the trail, making sure we avoid cedar trees and rocky areas," said Dolores mayor Val Truelson.
The trail is not expected to open until next year, with completion estimated in 2015.