Silverton Singletrack Society
If you’ve ever ridden the Colorado Trail or any of the many other great trails between Molas Pass and Cascade Creek, then you’ve experienced some of the sweet single-track that southern San Juan County has to offer, with its stunning vistas, manageable climbs, and thrilling descents. But closer to Silverton, the only incorporated town in the county, the riding becomes more rugged. Many of the trails are abandoned railroad grades and pack-mule trails, vestiges of Silverton’s mining heyday. They are steep, poorly maintained, and highly technical. They often require hike-a-bike and appeal to expert riders only. Silverton Singletrack Society aims to change this.
Formed by a group of local bike enthusiasts, Silverton Singletrack Society is an all-volunteer, nonprofit trails-advocacy group dedicated to promoting mountain biking in Silverton and San Juan County. The group envisions Silverton as a world-class mountain-biking destination and seeks to cultivate bike culture, foster healthy lifestyles, and contribute to the community’s economic vitality by building, improving, and maintaining sustainable mountain-bike trails.
The society first organized in 2014 as a chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), then set to work building connections in the local cycling community by operating the beer garden at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic finish line and organizing volunteer trail-work days with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, including popular spots like the Rainbow Trail, Boulder Gulch Trail, and Bear Creek Trail. But the group’s primary focus is the creation of the Baker’s Park Trail System. “We currently have fewer than 10 miles of trails that are officially open to mountain biking around Silverton, and most of them are pretty gnarly,” says Cliff Pinto, a society board member and owner of Pedal the Peaks Silverton. “Baker’s Park will create purpose-built single-track trails for all skill levels in super close proximity to town.”
Dubbed Baker’s Park in a nod to Charles Baker, a prospector who discovered gold in the area in 1860, the concept plan developed by IMBA and funded by San Juan County in 2018 maps out approximately 30 miles of new single-track trails on BLM lands directly adjacent to Silverton. About 24 miles will be shared use, and nearly 6 miles will be one-way trails specifically designed for mountain bikes. The final design will include options for all users, from hikers to trail runners and beginner to advanced mountain bikers, as well as e-bikes. “It was important to us that we include a mix of trails for all ability levels,” Pinto says. “We want to appeal to beginners, experts, kids, adults, and pretty much anyone who would like to come to Silverton to ride their mountain bikes.” A somewhat unique feature of the Baker’s Park plan is that class 1 e-bikes will be allowed. This will help people coming from lower elevations who struggle with the thin mountain air as well as people who may not have the climbing legs they did when they were younger.
The society is hopeful that construction of Phase 1 of Baker’s Park, which includes roughly 10 miles of trails and a trailhead parking lot, will start this spring, after the BLM approves final trail alignments. The total cost for Baker’s Park is estimated at $1.5 million, with the price tag for Phase 1 estimated at $500,000. “We had to hold off on fundraising while we waited for the BLM Travel Management Plan to be finalized, but now we are jumping in with both feet to raise the funding needed for Phase 1,” says Klemens Branner, society board president. To date, the Town of Silverton has committed $25,000 toward the effort, and the society plans to pursue grants and launch a GoFundMe campaign to raise the rest.
For more information or to get involved, visit www.silvertonsingletracksociety.org.