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Flow trail plan gets good, bad reviews Thursday

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By Tris DeRoma

Dozens of people crowded into a small room at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building Thursday to voice their praise and concerns about a proposed flow trail for mountain bikers to the Parks and Recreation Board.

The flow trail is being designed by the county’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division. Division staff presented an update of the plan to the board. 

Resident Bruce Warren, the first to speak, didn’t think the trail was needed.

“One of the great things about living here in Los Alamos is that we have already an existing, amazing trail system. Poorly maintained, but a great trail system,” Warren said. “My recommendation would not be not to build any more trails but maintain and improve what we have.” 

Resident Brad Nyenhuis, co-owner of Los Alamos’ Fusion Multisport, was in favor of the idea. He said the trail would bring more tourists to town, which he said has a landscape made for mountain biking. 

“We’re perfectly set up to get those tourism dollars,”  Neyenhuis said. “We have a long season...and we have tremendous terrain,” he said. “We don’t really have tremendous (bike) trails. “We have great hiking trails, that we do ride on, but they’re meant for hiking.” 

Parks division officials talked extensively on the possible two locations the trail could go, either Bayo Canyon or in the Walnut Canyon/Pueblo Canyon area. 

Officials making the presentation also noted that the trail would be only used for biking, that horseback riding would not be allowed. Many horseback riders attended the meeting to voice their concerns, represented by North Mesa Stables Association President James Whitehead.

“As a member of the equestrian community, I have concerns with more and more trails becoming for hikers only,” Whitehead said. “...The equestrian community that I represent would like to express their support for multi-use trails. We hope to be included in any future discussions about the flow trail, to minimize conflicts with equestrians and to help educate bikers on safe interactions with horses.” 

The Bayo Canyon and Walnut Canyon choices have an equal number of pros and cons to them, including rock gardens to navigate and dropoffs, especially in the Walnut Canyon plan.

The Walnut plan required more modification, and the dropoff issue seemed more of a problem in the Walnut plan. 

“The upper and middle sections presents extreme side slopes and also large rock gardens that would present a lot of work to put a trail through,” Los Alamos County Open Space expert Eric Peterson said. “There are also slick rock dropoffs, where we’re going along and it’s a sheer cliff. So that takes out the family-friendly aspect of the trail.”

Both trail plans feature multiple routes to challenge beginner, intermediate and expert riders.

“If you’re intimidated by a feature, you can bypass it completely, roll over it or give yourself a little air for the more experienced rider,” Peterson said.  

The next steps for both plans include endangered species evaluations, assemblage of a photographic presentation of both proposed trails with possible drone video. Those may be featured in an undetermined  future public hearing at Fuller Lodge on the bike flow trail alternatives.

“We’re hopeful to have that in the next couple of weeks,” Open Space Division Manager Chris Wilson said about the Fuller Lodge meeting. 

 The trail, wherever it is placed on county land, will cost approximately $50,000 in Capital Improvement Project funding, and will eventually become part of a larger mountain bike trail system. The flow trail section of the trail system would run in one direction, be family friendly and run mostly on a downward slope.  

In October 2016, council allocated the funds after seeing much economic and recreational potential in the flow trail project. 

The trail will be designed with the goal of obtaining a bronze-level status in compliance with International Mountain Bicycling Association criteria, which many think will attract large numbers of riders to Los Alamos. 

 

A flow trail is typically smoother than a regular mountain bike trail, mostly downhill and with little to no obstacles to navigate. This particular trail will be approximately eight- to 10-miles long.