Proposed trail would connect Cortez, Mancos

Steering committee is being formed to consider 17-mile recreation trail

A steering committee is being formed to consider a recreation trail that would connect Cortez, Mesa Verde National Park, and Mancos.

Montezuma County, along with local city officials, the BLM, CDOT and the Park Service have expressed interest in the idea and are in the preliminary planning stages.

“It’s a very conceptual idea right now, but there seems to be a lot of interest,” said James Dietrich, community services director for Montezuma County.”We’re exploring what is possible.”

There is no specific route at this stage for the proposed 17-mile trail that would also connect Cortez with the county fairgrounds and Phil’s World mountain bike park. In general the route would parallel Highway 160 on the south. The corridor includes CDOT, county, private, National Park and BLM lands.

The path of least resistance is likely alongside Highway 160 within the CDOT right of way.

During a meeting this week on road improvements, CDOT regional planner Matt Muraro noted that CDOT is supportive of the trail idea and will partner with the county on a plan.

“There is funding available for trail projects with a match program,” he said.

The idea has been around for some time, but has never materialized. Organizers point out it is good for locals and visitors, and has long-term economic benefits.

“There’s real energy for the project,” said commissioner Steve Chappell, adding that a lot of details and successful negotiations on the trail alignment will take patience.

A brainstorming meeting, previously delayed due to the government shutdown, was recently held on the concept with federal agencies and local governments.

“Everybody in the meeting was on board so it looks promising,” said county commissioner Larry Don Suckla.

Opportunities for public input on the trail will be made possible at future meetings.