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Master Trail Plan Taking Shape in Caliente, NV

An 18-month long advocacy process in Caliente, NV, is beginning to bear tangible fruit. Earlier this month, Joey Klein, a trail specialist with IMBA Trail Solutions, spent a week in the area reviewing the terrain, meeting with stakeholders and beginning to develop a conceptual plan for a trail network around town. His visit follows more than a year of regular presentations on the community health and economic benefits of mountain bike trails, and sustainable trail building practices.

This project began in earnest in spring 2012, when I and other local stakeholders met with staff from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to discuss the concept of a trail system around town.

Subsequent meetings included a preliminary review of the landscape, including visiting the local state parks and historical sites, and driving up onto the ridgelines to get and idea of the vast scale of the terrain. The parcel of land managed by the BLM-Caliente Field Office is 4 million acres, so our initial review really didn’t even scratch the surface, but rather gave us a “30,000 foot view” of what could be.

We then had the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew visit Caliente in March 2013, presenting their workshops to an audience of local land managers and city officials and residents, and working on a section of singletrack at Cathedral Gorge State Park, located north of Caliente.

Later in the year, I did a presentation for the Caliente City Council to further explain the concept and process of developing a purpose-built trail network, and received a favorable response. I then went on to do a similar presentation to Lincoln County Commission, where I announced that IMBA’s Southwest Region will commit $5,000 from the IMBA Trail Building Fund to get the initial planning phase started in earnest in 2013. The County Commission soon followed up with a generous matching grant of $5,000.

All of that led up to Joey Klein from IMBA Trail Solutions coming for a visit, which began with a stakeholder meeting including a core group of staff from the BLM and Nevada State Parks, city officials (including the Mayor and a couple of local residents), and area riders and business owners. Joey presented on contemporary trail design and construction techniques, then got into more detail on bike-optimized trails, citing examples of purpose-built mountain bike trail networks, including IMBA projects in Sandy Ridge, OR; Copper Harbor, MI; Coldwater Mountain, AL; and at a series of state parks throughout Wyoming.

Joey also discussed the benefits to local residents that such a network can offer, and the economic impacts from literally tens of thousands of visiting riders. After this initial meeting, Joey spent the remainder of the week exploring the area surrounding Caliente, including visiting nearby towns, state parks and closed mines, and learning more about the terrain and how a trail network could link it all together.

Downtown Caliente’s elevation is about 4,300 feet, and is easily accessible from both Las Vegas and Cedar City, UT. The ridgelines and peaks in the region rise as high as 9,000 feet. Along with a vast backcountry canvas on which to design trails, the public lands roll right onto Main Street, offering a unique opportunity to design a trail network that could literally emanate from downtown and be accessible from city parks, schools, residential neighborhoods, and state parks.

Imagine what an amazing resource it could be for local residents, local businesses and visiting riders whom could all benefit from this purposefully designed mountain bike trail system!

The next step in the process is to write up and present a report to the stakeholders, summarizing Joey’s week in Caliente and the surrounding mountains, showing where different zones of trails could be located and how the network would fit together. There may be opportunities for many miles of singletrack loops for all abilities, bike parks and skills areas close to town, and shuttle runs to the west.

After I present the initial findings, Joey will visit again—likely in spring 2014—to begin plotting trail corridors in greater detail and to produce documents that will help with the permitting process.

IMBA, local supporters and I see an amazing opportunity in and around Caliente, and are further motivated by the response from our partners in the area. A BIG thanks to the stakeholders who have been involved so far (and who have hung with this), and to all of the folks who contribute to the IMBA Trail Building Fund, which allows us to keep doing this work.

Stay tuned as things develop in Caliente, NV, in the coming months and years.

Photos thanks to Joey Klein

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