It’s just another day at the office for Scott Escott as he tops a ridge north of Moab.
As trails coordinator for Trail Mix, a Grand County-sponsored committee that participates in the planning, construction and maintenance of non-motorized trails, Escott can usually be found somewhere in the desert, either scouting new routes, or working with a group of volunteers. He is currently working with 20 Outward Bound students on Klonzo 2, which will double the size of the current Klonzo Trail network to about 25 miles.
Moab has seen a proliferation of non-motorized-trail construction in recent years and Escott has overseen much of it. Nearly 100 miles of trail has been constructed with 150 more in the planning stages.
“It’s all about separated use” Escott said. “People want to be able to come here, particularly during a time like Jeep Safari, and ride their bikes on a non-motorized trail.”
Trail Mix’s participation and planning has been instrumental in creating nearly all of the non-motorized trails that have come about in the last 10 years, including the Moab Brands trails, the Klondike Bluffs area, Magnificent 7, and the Whole Enchilada Trail System.
The need for non-motorized trail development was recognized in 1999, and an advisory committee was formed in early 2000. Escott said he first got involved with the Moab Brand Trails just north of Arches National Park. He worked with City of Moab community development director David Olsen and came up with a “spaghetti drawing” that developed into a series of interconnected loops of varying difficulty.
Next came the Pipe Dream Trail which was constructed using state-of-the-art trail techniques like using all native materials, and was done entirely by hand. Much of this, Olsen said, came because Moab, “the mountain bike capital of the world, was suddenly being out-competed by neighboring Fruita,” which had an active trail-building program as part of its overall economic development plan.
The Trail Mix committee represents the interests of a variety of non-motorized trail users, hence the “mix”, including hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and cross country skiers. And, Olsen said, “unlike most committees that dissolve after six months, this one just keeps getting stronger.”
This season, Trail Mix has completed two new sections of trail that are open and ready to ride; the Hymasa Trail, adjacent to the Amasa Back Jeep trail off of Kane Creek Road, and the Miner’s Loop Trail near the Klondike Bluffs. The Hymasa Trail bypasses much of the Amasa Back jeep trail and also makes a connecting link with the experts-only Captain Ahab single-track. The Miner’s Loop Trail is at the southern end of the Klondike Bluffs and serves as a connecting loop with Baby Steps.
The current project, Klonzo 2, is part of a two-year grant to create 40 new miles of trail. The grant includes the construction of Area 313, that will connect with the Magnificent 7 trails, and Navajo Rocks near Seven Mile Canyon. Grants are awarded by the State of Utah, and matched by volunteer hours.
Escott and Olsen also credit the receptiveness of the various government agencies that manage the lands on which the trails are built, particularly the Bureau of Land Management that went, Olsen said, “from being the agency of ‘no,’ to an agency of ‘let’s see how we can do this.’” Escott said these relationships are crucial, and he cites the Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point as a prime example. There, Trail Mix worked with the BLM, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Intrepid Potash to create nine miles of hiking and biking trails for all abilities.
Escott urges local and visiting trail users to stay informed about local public land management policy. The Grand County Council, in response to Congressman Rob Bishop’s public lands bill initiative, has posted three alternatives for land use designation on its Web site www.grandcountyutah.net/landuse.htm. These alternatives could determine what areas will be maintained for recreational use or for potential future oil and gas development. A public meeting about these alternatives is also scheduled for April 23, at the Grand Center, 182 N. 500 W. at 6:00 p.m.
Trail Mix’s vision and sweat keep Moab a world-class destination
“It’s all about separated use. People want to be able to come here, particularly during a time like Jeep Safari, and ride their bikes on a non-motorized trail.”
Trail Mix meets the second Tuesday of every month at The Grand Center from noon to 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and participate. For more information about Trail Mix, or to volunteer, contact Sandy Freethey at 435-260-2586, or Scott Escott at 435-260-8059. Trail Mix’s website is www.grandcountyutah.net/trailmix/