Pueblo trail concept. Courtesy/LAC
By Kristen Laskey
Los Alamos Daily Message
Los Alamos County has always been known for its recreational offerings. With the improvement and expansion of existing cycle routes under consideration, the Department of Community Services is working to improve and diversify these offerings.
CSD Director Cory Styron listed the bike lane projects being considered:
- A seven-mile international mountain bike trail in the Pueblo Canyon,
- A connecting path that would allow cyclists to move from the roundabout on the San Ildefonso road to the aquatic center,
- A bike skill park in Pueblo Canyon,
- A six-mile National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) trail loop near the Y intersection on NM 502, and
- Upgrades to a horse trail in Bayo Canyon near the North Mesa Stables.
Visit https://www.losalamosnm.us/government/county_projects/community_services_projects Pueblo to learn more.
Regarding all of these proposed projects, Styron pointed out that nothing is approved or finalized. A public meeting was held earlier this month on the plans and a second was held on Wednesday.
The purpose of these projects is to improve the county’s recreational offerings and trail opportunities, which are listed as actions under several major themes in the 2016 Los Alamos County Comprehensive Plan.
“The goal is to diversify and enhance our recreational opportunities,” Styron said. “It’s about creating opportunities for our community, especially for our young people. But if added, it would strengthen our biking and mountain biking offerings and educate residents on the fun and safe use of multi-use trails.
Here is a breakdown of each project:
International Mountain Bike Trail
Styron said this recommended trail would be approximately seven miles and travel from behind the Aquatic Center, using existing trails in the Pueblo Canyon and ending at the Y on NM 502. He explained that this would improve the single trail, the dirt trail, to be about 18 inches wide. The trail would be designed to be primarily beginner friendly and family friendly.
Styron described it as “a traditional mountain bike trail that provides residents and visitors with a very beautiful trail through a scenic area of our community.”
Styron said the proposed track is a compromise with the cycle track that was originally discussed in 2009.
“Based on previous work, Pueblo Canyon is the only option for this trail,” he said.
He pointed out that many community members were not in favor of putting the trail in Bayo Canyon and Los Alamos Canyon because it is owned by the DOE.
The advantages of this proposed trail in Pueblo Canyon are the accessibility from town and the family friendly nature of the trail. Concerns include possible environmental and cultural impacts. Styron said the proposed location is home to the endangered Mexican spotted owl and Jemez mountain salamander. There are also concerns about the soil. Additionally, San Ildefonso Pueblo raised questions about trespassing, impacts to cultural sites, and the trail adjoining areas where hunting is permitted. Others expressed concerns about user conflicts between hikers and cyclists.
To address some of these concerns, if the project goes ahead, Styron said the existing trail alignment would be modified to ease user conflict and accommodate endangered species habitats.
Bike Skill Park
The proposed skill park would be located below the aquatic center. It would cover six acres and feature three lines of trails that would offer different skills people might encounter on a bike path. Each trail would differ in difficulty. One, identified as green, would be the easiest. Another, marked in blue, would be intermediate, and the last would be black, like the hardest. The trails would include pump track style features, jumps and professionally constructed wooden berms and split logs.
The park would allow people to hone their skills in a relatively safe environment, Styron said.
Pueblo Canyon was chosen as a potential location for the park due to its accessibility to other trails as well as the aquatic center, high school, teen center, and nature center.
Concerns expressed about the park are the alternative use of the land and the possibility that it could accommodate less than desirable activities. There have been comments about the courses in the park and nearby trails.
“I personally think this location works well because it’s well connected to other locations and has good accessibility,” Styron said.
National Interscholastic Cycling Association Trail Loop
Styron said the proposed trail loop would be 6.6 miles long and would be located near the Y on NM 502. He explained that there are 50 local members of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), an organization which develops mountain bike programs for student-athletes. Across the United States, NICA also teaches young people the importance of eco-friendliness and trail etiquette. The loop would provide this organization with the opportunity to train and compete in Los Alamos. These competitions would promote tourism that is important to the local economy and businesses. NICA programs are gaining popularity in New Mexico; recently, NICA called New Mexico its own competition region, Styron said.
“This trail loop would provide a competitive route and would be available to the community for the remainder of the year,” he said.
Like the seven-mile trail at Pueblo Canyon, the loop would use existing trails and roads. It would also provide a bike pit and space for spectators.
Since it would run along San Ildefonso land, there are concerns about potential impacts to cultural sites as well as the impacts the trail would have on the ground. Styron said he has had conversations with the Pueblo about how to mitigate these impacts, and more conversations will take place as the project moves forward. He added that Pueblo officials have expressed interest in having their youth use the loop.
The suggested connector trail, which would run from the San Ildefonso Drive roundabout to the Aquatic Center, would give hikers and cyclists the opportunity to travel from northern communities to downtown. Styron said it would provide a safe and convenient route to get around town without having to drive a vehicle.
Horse Trail Improvements
This existing trail runs through Bayo Canyon, behind the North Mesa stables and was created by the Youth Conservation Corps. Proposed improvements include widening it to allow horses to pass each other and dealing with sections that are deteriorating.
All of these projects are just ideas at this time, Styron said. Further comments will be sought before a presentation is made to the Parks and Recreation Commission at a later date. This presentation will provide more concrete details, including costs and results of surveys conducted to gauge public opinion on these projects. Ultimately, the projects will be presented to the council for a final decision.
All opinions on these projects are valued and appreciated. The community is encouraged to attend public meetings and contribute, Styron said.
“Our intention is to increase recreational opportunities for our community, while respecting the desires of our residents, our environment and cultural aspects. We believe we can find a solution that meets all of these goals to develop something that everyone can enjoy,” said Styron.