Caliente Trail Planning and Design
Technical trails don't have to lose their challenge to be environmentally sustainable, especially when there's plenty of rock to use for the job. Not only does advanced armoring technique make tough, durable trails, but knowing how to do it can be a real advocacy tool for technical routes.
In 2013, another trail network in Sedona, AZ was added to the official trail system, with a critical role played by efforts to rock armor unsustainable areas. The process created lasting bike access to the Hogs area trails, a popular venue for advanced-level riders. The effort was similar to the successful push to protect access to Highline and Hangover — iconic and challenging trails that have also been authorized through the cooperation of the Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition (VVCC), the Red Rocks Ranger District (RRRD) of the Coconino National Forest and a host of dedicated local partners.
The USFS reviewed the Hogs trails and decided to move them through the NEPA environmental review process, a necessary step to create public access. Part of the approval stated that the trails must be brought up to a sustainable standard. To address this need, Joey Klein from IMBA Trail Solutions conducted a technical rock armoring training. The weekend clinic included a theory session, though most of the time was spent on the trail: assessing a site, completing the work, and training volunteers from the VVCC and Friends of the Forest (FOF). The end result was a sustainable section of trail that maintains the technical feel of the Hogs network, and a base of knowledge that the volunteers can take forward to future projects.
All in all, this project showcases mountain bike advocacy in action, with local volunteers, businesses, land managers and national advocacy partners working cooperatively to support legal, technical trails. Also, anyone who contributed to the IMBA Trail Building Fund can take pride in helping to support projects like this.