San Juan County, BLM partner on new mountain biking skills park in Farmington
Facility is part of two-phase project funded by $1.2 million in grants
- The park is located one-eighth of a mile north of Colibri Place on Calle Norte in Farmington.
- It features ramps, hills, berms and other features scattered across three trails of varying difficulty.
- It also features a children's area.
FARMINGTON — As high-ranking San Juan County officials, Mike Stark and Nick Porell are accustomed to attending ceremonial opening ceremonies for newly constructed county facilities, shaking a few hands and answering questions about the project.
But they had something else in mind when they attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 28, for the newly opened East Glade Trailhead Skills Park in north Farmington. Stark, the county manager, and Porell, the county's public works director, both brought along their mountain bikes in hopes of trying out the new facility, which the county built in partnership with the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The park is designed to serve as an area where mountain bikers of all skill levels can develop or hone their skills. It features ramps, hills, berms and other features scattered across three trails of varying difficulty — beginner, intermediate and advanced — and a children's area.
The facility is the latest addition to the growing list of outdoor recreation opportunities in San Juan County that government and economic development officials hope will help rebrand the area as a destination for those who seek such attractions.
San Juan County Commissioner Terri Fortner, who led the list of government officials who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, described the county's inventory of such spaces as second to none. Stark said the new skills park fills a specific need.
"It's a unique outdoor recreation asset specific to mountain biking," he said. "It's the kind of thing mountain biking enthusiasts will seek out from elsewhere. And it's a great asset for the local population to have this in their back yard."
The park was constructed by county workers on BLM land. It is part of a larger, ongoing two-phase project in the area that has been funded by the New Mexico Department of Transportation's Recreation Trails Program.
The first phase of the project, funded by a $700,000 grant, led to the building of a flow trail in the Anasazi area, as well as connections to Farmington Lake for off-highway vehicles and mountain bikes, single-track trail connected Glade Run East and Glade Run West, signage and a new parking lot, according to a news release from the county.
The second phase, funded by a $500,000 grant, includes 7.5 miles of trail in Glade Run East, clearances for new trails, improvements to the Anasazi Flow Trail, a skills park for OHV operators near the Brown Springs Campground, the news release states. The skills park was constructed with nearly $100,000 in in-kind work performed by the county.
Stark cited the ever-growing importance of grant funding to the county, acknowledging a project like the skills park never could have been completed by the county without that kind of outside assistance.
"No, certainly not where we are financially," he said, referring to the county's declining tax revenues for the past several years.
Stark said there is an abundance of sites throughout San Juan County that are suitable for such attractions, and he said grant funding quickly can help develop those locations into real assets.
"They just need a little fixing up to get something like this," he said.
Stark said he believes the park will attract tourists and locals alike. He said he had visited the park the previous weekend and struck up a conversation with a father and his two young sons about the facility.
"They were so excited to have something like this," Stark said.
Porell said the skills park is the first such project he is aware of in the Farmington area and said he has been pleased with the number of riders he has seen at the site since it opened earlier this month.
"Every time I come out here, there are six or eight cars in the parking lot," he said.
The park should only grow more popular as word about it gets out, he said, and other amenities are added — including a picnic area that will be built by the BLM at one corner of the park.
"It's a great location," Porell said, noting that four major trails converge at the site.
The park is located one-eighth of a mile north of Colibri Place on Calle Norte in Farmington.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.