A free labor force will soon arrive in Dolores with chain saws, picks and shovels to scrape in a new trail up to the mesa.
The town section is the first step of the 6-mile, nonmotorized Overlook Trail that will connect Dolores with the House Creek campground and extensive Boggy Draw trail system.
The first section, from the west end of town near the cemetery up to the national forest boundary, will be built by corps members of the Southwest Conservation Corps.
"Our crew will be here September 29 and spend four weeks working," said SWCC regional director Kevin Heiner. "For safety we're advising people stay away from our worksite while we build the trail."
Last year, Great Outdoors Colorado awarded Dolores with $25,200 grant to pay for the labor force.
The trail up the rugged slope of the mesa will involve at least one switch-back, retaining walls, and involve a lot of rock moving. The quarter-mile section traverses through a cliff band east of the cemetery, and is being built to accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horses.
As for the national forest section on the mesa, the trail has been roughly aligned, said recreation specialist Tom Rice, and a cultural resource survey is almost complete.
"The area had dense habitation and the geology is conducive to tool-making so we jockeyed the trail around those sites," Rice said.
Rice said eventually the forest would like to install interpretive panels along the trail explaining the Ancestral Puebloan culture and the importance of water in the Southwest today.
He said securing additional funding is needed to construct the technical parts of the trail on the mesa.
"We will be applying for grants to fund the forest portion," Rice said. "It is expected to cost more than $100,000."
The first mile of the mesa section will be relatively easy and rolling, then the trail progresses to more climbing sections before dropping into the House Creek campground.
Kudos was given to the Kokopelli bike club for their recent volunteer efforts building a two-mile section of trail from the House Creek campground to the Bean Canyon trail.
"We plan to tap the volunteer force in the community for additional trail construction," Rice said.
Special thanks was given to a landowner for working with the town to secure trail access up to the mesa.
Completion of the entire Overlook Trail is expected to take two years.