On the right track

Evan O’Toole rides his bike down trails Tuesday afternoon east of Jacoby Golf Course.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

Almost 10 miles of single-track trails are set to come to a section of state land on the eastern edge of Laramie in coming years.

Laramie BikeNet is planning to begin construction on trails this fall on a section that sits to the east of Jacoby Golf Course. The section is surrounded on three-and-a-half sides by private land while sharing a half-mile border with open space owned by the University of Wyoming.

Nicknamed the Schoolyard Multi-Use Development Project, the trails were the inspiration of Evan O’Toole, a local cyclist and BikeNet member.

He came up with the idea after attending a mountain bike conference in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a couple years ago. That town has a trail system at its edge that leaves from its recreation center.

“Driving home, I was like, there’s got to be something that we could do like that in Laramie,” he said.

While almost all the open space east of town is private land, there is a 1-square-mile section of State Trust Land, which is managed by the Board of Land Commissioners through the Office of State Lands and Investments. Revenue from such parcels around the state benefits public schools and other organizations.

The section east of Laramie has a grazing lease on it, but that doesn’t preclude other uses, such as recreation.

“Nobody knew you could develop trails out there,” BikeNet member Dan McCoy said.

BikeNet secured a special-use agreement with the Office of State Lands and Investments in conjunction with Albany County. This year, it received $43,500 from the Albany County Recreation Board, which will be used for trail design and initial construction.

The club hired Kay-Linn Enterprises to design the trails. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the company designed trails at Glendo and Curt Gowdy State Park while also leading repair work at Happy Jack this summer. Laramie company Wyo Trails will build the trails.

“We really wanted to have a local crew do the trail work,” McCoy said.

BikeNet is still finalizing the design, which will be available for public feedback in coming weeks, either through a meeting or through an online comment process, O’Toole said.

While currently lacking official development, the section has a web of two-track and singletrack trails and roads crossing it and sees heavy recreational use.

An official trail project would include signage and physical barriers to prevent illegal motorized use, McCoy said.

“It would enhance community investment in protecting the land,” he said.

BikeNet envisions a sustainable design philosophy. McCoy explained such a philosophy calls for trails that need little maintenance, minimize user conflicts and protect the environment. Such trails would be aligned with landscape contours and avoid going straight up hillsides, in order to prevent erosion. Trails would also avoid flat areas, which would collect water.

Trails would be designed to provide a variety of terrain, difficulty and width to accommodate all users, from those walking their dogs to those seeking a mountain bike challenge. Trails farther from the trailhead would be more advanced, while those closer to the trailhead would be wider and flatter.

“We want this to be a multi-use trail system,” he said.

The system would also direct people away from private property conflicts.

“We want to get people out in a responsible way and minimize negative use,” McCoy said.

With a trailhead near the corner of 45th Street and Crow Drive, the state section trails could connect to the just-built Jacoby Ridge Trail.

Long-term, BikeNet envisions decommissioning some existing roads that are redundant or causing erosion.

McCoy said similar trail projects adjacent to Wyoming towns such as Cody and Green River are proving extremely popular.

“When you put in a really nice trail system, you’ll get people using it,” he said.

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