Morning Gloria trail ready to be rolled |

Morning Gloria trail ready to be rolled

Marc Sehler drives a new singletrack trail-building machine as it clears brush and stumps from what will become the Morning Gloria trail on Emerald Mountain. The 4.25-mile singletrack trail opened to the public last week, about two months after construction started.

— Gretchen Sehler said she's been dreaming of the Morning Gloria trail for a decade and a half.

"Two dogs ago," she said.

That first pet accompanied her onto the slopes of Emerald Mountain for missions that were as much daydreaming as they were scouting. Her current dog, however, saw a flurry of construction that made the trail, long in Sehler's mind, a reality in seemingly record time for Routt County.

The 4.25-mile Morning Gloria singletrack, multi-use trail was opened to the public late last week, and aside from a few finishing touches, is complete just about two months after it was started.

"It's everything I wished it could be," Sehler said. "To want something and to be able to design it and build it the way you designed it is pretty special."

The trail was a $160,000 project run through the city of Steamboat Springs. The bulk of the funding, $102,775, came from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant while $58,000 came from leftover city accommodations tax funds from 2013 and was used as matching funds to secure the grant.

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The trail is the first to be built with accommodations tax funds, though not from money allocated by the Referendum 2A ballot initiative that was approved in November and will fund trail building for the next decade.

Routt County Riders was contracted to build the trail, and Sehler and her husband, Marc Sehler, fixtures in that organization, designed the trail and oversaw its construction.

"It goes through a lot of different zones, through scrub oak, pine trees, aspens with ferns in it," Gretchen Sehler said. "From the top of the trail coming downhill, you barely have to touch your brakes, and you barely have to pedal to keep going. You're not going too fast, and you're not going too slow."

Craig Robinson, the city’s open space and Howelsen Hill facilities superintendent, said a short list of fixes still needs to be completed, including revegetating areas that were used for access by trail-building crews and modifying other terrain to keep riders from shortcutting switchbacks.

He hopped on his bike and took a spin last week.

"What I like about it is that it's uninterrupted singletrack," he said. "That's unique for what we have on a lot of the front side of Howelsen. It's got some good character, some good flow and is well built."

It was certainly quickly built. Construction started in mid-June. Routt County Riders trail builders pitched in, as did Rocky Mountain Youth Corps workers. They were all greatly aided by a $100,000 trail-building machine, new this summer.

The machine was purchased by Routt County Riders with donations and a loan and, by some estimates, cut months, maybe even years, off the timeline to build a new 4-mile route.

"It was a very quick process, which isn't always the case with municipal work," Robinson said. "We were lucky enough to be awarded the GOCO grant, lucky enough to have additional funding in place from the accommodation tax money to match for that grant. The stars all aligned."

The trail explores plenty of new terrain but starts off from and joins up with the existing network on Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain. It breaks off from Lupine, above Larry's, then comes out at Quarry Mountain and Root Canal.

"It's pretty sweet," Sehler said. "It's just a fun trail. It just makes me giggle."

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