A proposed hiking and biking trail that would connect Dolores with Granath Mesa and the Boggy Draw trail system has gained momentum and has preliminary support from residents, landowners, the Town Board and Montezuma County commissioners.
But there has been some opposition as well.
The trail would begin at 14th Street and travel north up the mesa via a gully paralleling County Road 31 to the east.
Southwest Colorado Cycling Association is conducting planning and construction at no cost, using volunteers.
It is intended to provide a safer route for walkers and cyclists using Road 31, which is seeing more and more traffic.
The initial phase of the trail would pass through town property, then easements are required through three private property parcels for it to reach Road V.2.
From there, Montezuma County has expressed support for it to run along the Road 31 right of way to Road W, which connects to the vast Boggy Draw trail system.
SWCCA organizers said they have contacted the landowners and have had initial support for the easement portion of the trail plan, but final agreements are under negotiation.
Insurance would be covered by the town or county, and maintenance would be by the bike club.
During a presentation to Dolores Town Board, SWCCA trail builder Shawn Gregory said the single-track dirt trail would serve residents mostly, and there is no need for a parking area.
“We’re really looking to provide a safer route up the hill, reduce some of the congestion on the road,” he said. “People would rather walk or bike up a nice secluded canyon than worry about vehicles coming up behind them.”
The Town Board gave approval for the trail planning to move forward. County commissioners also said during their weekly meeting Tuesday that they support the trail plan.
Initial construction would knock down vegetation along a 3-foot swath, but it would be allowed to grow back, leaving a single-track path. The trail would be designed to drain away water.
Montezuma County Sheriff Steven Nowlin said adequate access to the trail is needed for rescue vehicles in case there is an emergency.
A crosswalk would be needed across Road 31 at the Road V.2 intersection to allow southbound cyclists and walkers on Road 31 a place to cross the road and access to the trail.
Jeanne Becker expressed concern that trees might have to be removed for the trail and that the increased use would disrupt the natural qualities of the gully.
“I walk the road almost everyday, the shoulder is wide enough,” she said.
Proponents claimed economic benefits of trails in town. For example, hotels can offer another trail to guests that is within walking distance, Gregory said.
Total costs of the trail project would be donated via volunteer labor and SWCCA equipment, Gregory said, a value of about $48,000.
“We envision it as a community asset,” he said.
Dolores has focused on trail development in recent years, including improving the Dolores River Trail, and construction of the McPhee Overlook Trail accessing the San Juan National Forest, McPhee Reservoir and Boggy Draw.