With the go-ahead from the Bureau of Land Management, two Colorado communities could come closer to their goal of becoming mountain biking destinations.
BLM cited local demand for singletrack for about 28 miles of proposed trail in Rifle and New Castle, west of Glenwood Springs.
The majority of that, roughly 18 miles, would be built around the popular Rifle Arch. The trails would form the Grand Hogback network, "a high-quality trail system for all abilities," according to BLM, aimed at drawing riders away from land frequented by target shooters.
But to the displeasure of cycling purists, the singletrack would be shared by electric-powered peers.
In his decision to allow Class 1 e-bikes — with pedal-assisted motors halting at 20 mph — BLM's Larry Sandoval mentioned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt's order last year to increase access for e-bikes. The access would benefit "people with age, fitness level, or disability limitations," Sandoval wrote in his decision.
A representative of Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that the Grand Hogback trails would be built in phases, with the overall project likely lasting four to five years.
BLM documents say construction could start this summer on 10 miles of trail that would expand a network in New Castle. The town has grown its singletrack in recent years and has also built a park with dirt jumps and a pump track.
E-bikes won't be allowed on the New Castle trails, based on a previous non-motorized designation for the area.