Dolores is famous for its easy-access trails in the adjacent San Juan National Forest, and now there is a plan to add trails and connectors.
The proposed Horse Camp, McNeil, String Bean and Nth trails would add 25 miles to the Boggy Draw system. They are designed to provide more options and diversity for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, reports forest planner Tom Rice and local trail builder Shawn Gregory, of the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association.
“They go from cruisers to more technical,” Rice said. “These new trails have been on the radar for several years.”
He said the new routes were exhaustively explored, analyzed and adjusted to avoid sensitive wildlife areas, riparian zones and archaeological sites.
“They are stacked within the existing trail system. Having recreation concentrated in one area helps preserve other areas of the forest for wildlife habitat,” Rice said.
Gregory said much effort was made to design the trails so they explore new and interesting parts of the landscape.
The 5.3-mile McNeil Trail takes off from the existing Italian Canyon trail and travels along the canyon rim, weaving through giant boulders. It is a nontechnical cruiser.
The proposed 6.8-mile Horse Camp Trail is “a real gem,” Gregory said. The loop explores little-known side canyons that feed into House Creek east of the Norwood Road.
“There are some really deep, forested canyons in there. The trail adds a whole new level of scenery and has good elevation,” Gregory said.
Horse Camp trail has convenient access from the Norwood Road, which it crosses twice, and it also connects to the Boggy and Little Bean trails.
“It would be easy to park along road turnouts, and do shorter sections of it,” Gregory said.
The 7.1-mile Nth trail loop, named because it heads north, takes off from the Boggy Trail at the prominent stock pond past the fence line. The easier trail offers a casual ride through aspen, an experience largely missing from existing trails.
The 5.4-mile String Bean trail is the most technical of the proposed trails. It drops into Bean Canyon and follows along rocky, canyon rims with great perspective on McPhee Reservoir. A section of it would be closed from March 1 to Aug. 15 for raptor nest protection.
Two of the trails were named in honor of Lloyd McNeil, a well-liked forest employee and trail builder who recently passed away. He worked with the Rainbow Family when they had their New Age festival in the San Juan forests, and String Bean was their nickname for him.
“The new trails are in response to the desires of locals and visitors to have different options and experiences,” Rice said.
“They add to the local economy by encouraging visitors to stay an extra day to explore what we have to offer.”
To view the new Boggy trail plan and comment, check out the project plan on the San Juan National Forest website.
Note: A permanent air pump and bike work station is being installed at the Boggy Draw trailhead this week. It was donated by Jason Adams, of Adams Plastic Surgery in Farmington.