A third entrance to the Geer Natural Area in Cortez was opened on Saturday by a team of volunteers, several months after it was first proposed by property owner Keith Evans.
This is the second year the Montezuma Land Conservancy has held a trail maintenance party to repair existing trails or clear new ones. This year several dozen volunteers showed up to create the new entrance, which will be accessible from North Mildred Road, near Southwest Memorial Hospital. Evans, along with the Land Conservancy, has planned to open the entrance since late 2016, when he was granted a conservation easement on 50 acres of property adjoining the park, including the new access.
Entrances to the park are already available from Lebanon Road and County Road L. The new one will tie into the existing network of trails.
“There’s going to be access to this amazing core of trails for pretty much the whole area,” Land Conservancy director Jon Leibowitz said.
Although there is no new parking lot for the Mildred Road entrance, it’s located near the parking lot for the hospital. Most of the access point and about a quarter mile of trail were cleared Saturday, and Evans said he would add a gate within the next few days. Volunteers also rerouted one of the existing trails to widen it and avoid an area with severe erosion.
Evans said he also hoped to add tie-in trails to the new entrance directly from the hospital and nearby nursing home.
“If there’s residents there that have assisted care that want to go walk, or employees from the hospital that want to go for a walk on their break, it’s all right there,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday, about 15 people had run through Geer Natural Area in the 5-mile final race of the Geer Park Trail Series. Proceeds from the race’s entrance fees go to the Land Conservancy to pay for maintenance on the trails. Leibowitz said the Land Conservancy raised about $500 from the series last year, and he said most of that went toward caring for Geer. The next big race the Land Conservancy plans to organize is the Very Scary Time Trial, a cycling event held in Geer Park every Halloween. Leibowitz said he hoped the maintenance performed on Saturday would help prepare the way for that race.
In addition to members of the Land Conservancy, several members of the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association, the Cortez parks and recreation department and other interested citizens helped clear the trail. The SWCCA provided the tools, and the city of Cortez provided food for the volunteers after they finished the job. Mate said she expected the new entrance to be ready for public use by Sunday.