What an amazing year for the Flagstaff Biking Organization’s Trail Program. It’s that time of the year when we look back on the accomplishments of the trail program in 2023. We are thankful to our donors, volunteers, partners, and supporters for helping make our trails great and our community an awesome place to live!
Volunteer Events and Trail Days
There were seven volunteer events held as part of the FBO Trail Program in 2023. Volunteers contributed 861 volunteer hours with 11.61 miles of trail maintained or constructed! We averaged 31 volunteers per event, a contribution of $25,830 value of volunteer labor in total, to help our partner, the U.S. Forest Service, with year 2 of the awesome Mt. Elden-Dry Lake Hills (MEDL) Recreation Project.
In April, our season kicked off in grand fashion by tackling deferred-maintenance on the popular Campbell Mesa trail system. In May, we helped realign sections of Schultz Creek trail damaged by flooding following the Pipeline Fire. On National Trails Day in June, we had 70 folks come out to build the lowermost reroute of the Schultz Creek Trail, including a new connector trail across the retention basins to connect to the Schultz Y parking area. Flagstaff Trails Initiative and R2R Hiking Club served up a tasty lunch of burgers, brats and all the fixings courtesy of Coconino County Board of Supervisors. In July and August, several events were held to help build new sustainable single track replacements for the old legacy roads known as Little Gnarly and Climb 3. These new trails, named Swell and Broadside respectively, offer easier grades of 5% or less and are a nice alternative to the sections of 12-14% grade on the old 2-track roads. The views of the San Francisco Peaks are stunning and the trails weave through meadows and stands of aspen, Ponderosa Pine and Fir trees. In September, we were a partner with the Coconino Trail Riders, Northern Arizona Trail Runners, the Coconino Horsemen’s Alliance and the Coconino National Forest in the annual Pedals v Pistons v Horseshoes v Hiking Boots Trail Day, an event that encourages cooperation and community between all trail users. This event focused on Lower Moto trail maintenance in Fort Valley. Mountain bikers won the participation trophy for the 2nd year in a row!
Schultz Stacked Loop System
As described in the MEDL project, there was a need for a sustainable trail system in the Schultz Creek area. The system was completed in August and includes 7.7 miles of entirely new, natural surface trail with trail names drawing on Flagstaff’s remarkable astronomical legacy, including being named the first International Dark Sky City in 2001, being the staging location for Apollo moon missions in the 1960s, and location of the famous Lowell Observatory. At 4.4 miles, Big Bang highlights the unique and dramatic landscape of Dry Lake Hills; Space Walk circumnavigates the smaller hill locally known as 2nd bench, providing several trail connections with massive views of both the San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff, situated 500 feet below in elevation; and Dipper trail contours the front side of the 2nd bench in a series of turns and is an enjoyable ride in either direction. Afterglow, Pluto, and Apollo are shorter trails that offer additional connectivity and help make this is an easily system to access from the popular Schultz Creek Trailhead
The Schultz Loops were largely being built by the Flagstaff Ranger District (FRD) trail crew, American Conservation Experience and Arizona Conservation Corps hired through funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, volunteers with Flagstaff Biking Organization trail program and the Flagstaff Trails Initiative, and with huge support from local businesses.
Flow Trail Project
We were especially excited to obtain the funding to hire a professional trail building company, Flagline Trails, to design and build a mountain bike flow trail as part of MEDL in partnership with the Coconino National Forest. The project is near completion and will provide a roller-coaster experience for riders of different levels skill levels, to pump, jump, and carve a combination of challenge features. This project is not only a first on the District but also one of the first in the state of Arizona. The input of local riders was solicited during the design and construction phases to ensure that the trail meets community expectations. Official opening will be this spring after a week or two of final tune-up and signage will be installed to help inform all trail users about this directional mountain bike trail. (The trail is not open quite yet, please wait for an announcement in spring 2024.)
Flagstaff Trail Faeries
The Flagstaff Trail Faeries had another productive year rebuilding the now adopted Jedi trail as part of the MEDL project. In keeping with the new nautical and solar system themes, the trail is now known as Lunar Tide. Lunar Tide starts off of Brookbank trail and provides a solid intermediate experience that follows the natural contour of the terrain while moving the trail out of the heavily impacted logging zone. The Faeries contributed 980 volunteer hours on 27 Sundays to officially bring this trail into the MEDL trail system!
More to come —
In 2024, we are again working on a partnership with the Flagstaff Ranger District on deferred maintenance and new trail construction and will be fundraising for the hiring of trail crews while continuing our history of organized volunteer events.
We need your help!
We are so grateful for all the folks who participated this year; either by signing up for a volunteer event, donating to the Trail Fund, or just staying in the loop by being on the email list. The MEDL project is a 10-year project with limited funding. Flagstaff Biking Organization is seeking to generate substantial donations to achieve the best possible outcome for this project, as well as a few others still in the planning phase. We need your help to get these and other projects across the finish line! Your generosity will help FBO, in partnership with the Forest Service, make these things happen!