Grand Plans for a Grand Loop
There are trails, and there are professionally planned trail systems.
On the western edge of Las Vegas the roads start to climb and the views change from flashing lights to red rock walls. The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and within it, National Recreation Area, has many miles of singletrack snaking through the region’s distinctive yucca stalks, fragrant creosote, and springtime globemallow blooms. The existing trails, however, are what often get referred to as legacy trails. Scratched in long ago by conservation corps crews, animal paths, and the patterns of wanderers, legacy trails can lack the proper sanctions, sustainability and connectivity of a professionally designed trail system.
The tight-knit recreation community in Las Vegas is ready for a change of habit, and changes are a-comin’. The Southern Nevada Mountain Bike Association (SNMBA) is one of IMBA’s most recent Trail Accelerator grant recipients, being awarded a professional trail plan for a 9-to-15 mile trail system that will host beginner and intermediate trails adjacent to Red Rock Campground.
Recognizing SNMBA’s strong organization and ongoing local trail stewardship, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approached the IMBA Local Member Organization about a potentional trail system that will be shared use and mountain bike-optimized. These trails will serve campers, the community, and support NICA and NSICL’s local high school mountain bike teams with sanctioned trails for training, racing and stewardship through the Teen Trail Corps program.
Alison Cormier, SNMBA’s Community Engagement/Education Manager, said, “This project will be the first professionally planned trail system in the Las Vegas area. Although Las Vegas contains many amazing trails, they were not planned as part of an entire system with input from multiple partners. Once people are able to see the amazing trail system this project will bring, I believe this will be just the beginning of much more organized trail development in Las Vegas with many more partners jumping on the trails bandwagon!”
The location near Red Rock Campground will provide great community connectivity. In addition to the campground there are several access points and trailheads available, with an additional trailhead being planned by local real estate developer The Howard Hughes Corporation in conjunction with the BLM. These new trails will allow families to ride from their homes directly to trails without having to cross Highway 159. In time the plan will all connect to the future Legacy Trail, which will be a paved multi-use trail that will extend through the Red Rock National Conservation Area and beyond to residential areas.
“Without our project even having actually commenced, just the anticipation of our Trail Accelerator grant project has already fostered a partnership between SNMBA, the BLM, and the Howard Hughes Corporation, a major land developer with a connection to the project area. We anticipate the involvement of additional corporate sponsors which will help accelerate even more trail planning in the area,” Alison added.
IMBA’s Trail Solutions planners will meet with the community and assess the site later this year to begin crafting the first professional trail plan for this Red Rock Canyon region.