By Dave Iltis
October 9, 2014 – Daggett County, Utah is planning to develop a 639.9 mile mountain bike trail system at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The area currently has only a few developed trails.
In the near future, they plan on improving the Dowd Mountain Trail. A request for proposals for a maintenance and improvement contract has a deadline of October 14, 2014. The RFP is available here: http://www.daggettcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=461. This encompasses 13 miles of the trail.
The county recently hired Public Land Solutions to perform a Recreation Audit and Recommendations. The study concludes that:
The most obvious area for expanding recreational opportunities and creating new revenue in Daggett County-given its topography, location and services-is the establishment of new mountain bike trails, which costs a fraction of other recreational developments and has proven successful elsewhere. These new developments could come in a variety of types:
l. New stacked-loop singletrack trails 2. lmproved and expanded internal connectivity of existing trails and roads 3. lmprove existing mountain bike single track trails 4. Connector trails between rrew and/or existing singletrack and road areas 5. New and/or improved day-use trailheads.
The study makes recommendations on new trails and areas to develop for mountain biking.
An additional study from IMBA presents a proposal for a full trail system in Flaming Gorge. It identifies six areas for trail development: Manila, Dowd Mountain, Browne Lake, Red Canyon, Bare Top Mountain, and Dutch John.
The IMBA plan (download it here), “proposes up to 382 miles of new trails and 11 miles of road to trail conversion to build purpose-built singletrack trails that offer a positive recreation experience that includes logical connections and loops,” in addition to over 100 miles of existing trails and dirt roads. The trails would include different skill levels in stackable loops (think loop trails with shorter, easier trails near the trail head and more advanced trails farther away). Additionally, they recommend an environmentally and socially sustainable system with numerous trail heads and integration with the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The trail system will likely be a draw for regional mountain bikers from Salt Lake City, and Colorado. The trails study indicates up to a 639.9 miles trail system potentially be built in the future.
Currently, the Flaming Gorge Area has six mountain bike trails: Red Canyon Trail, Bear Canyon Bootleg, Swett Ranch Trail, Death Valley Trail, Dowd Mountain Trail, Canyon Rim Trail, and the Elk Park Trail.
According to Daggett County's Brian Raymond, the county hopes to develop 20-50 miles of trail each year, beginning with upgrades on the Dowd Mountain Trail.
With just over 1000 residents, Daggett County is the least populous county in Utah. A destination trail system like this would have a great potential impact on the local economy. Dutch John and Manila are the two main townships in Daggett County. The trip from Salt Lake City is approximately 170 miles. The proposed trail system is in the Utah section of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
To learn more about future development, and to donate to Daggett County's Trails efforts, see http://www.daggettcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=460