Mountain Biking the New Ridgway Area Trails (RAT) Network
Proponents had to wait eight long years, but at long last, the RAT vision is a reality. The area is now infested with a network of world-class, flowing singletrack mountain bike trails, and the biking community in Ridgway and beyond is thriving.
Developers admit that it took a lot of “blood, sweat, and beers,” but they were able to turn an existing couple of miles of trail into a network of close to 50 miles of riding. They went through all the proper channels, says Brian Scranton: the planning, the scoping, and the environmental and archaeological surveys. “Some other networks were built the opposite way, asking forgiveness once it’s built instead of permission, but we started from scratch. The immeasurable things we were also able to build are our relationships with the public lands offices, local government, and regional businesses.”
The RAT network is drawing riders from all over the four corners area, enticed by the quality of the mountain biking. Scranton says about 80% of the trails are intermediate riding, very approachable for a beginner but still enjoyable for experts who want to ride fast and enjoy the fun curves. There are no steep climbs or treacherous downhills, he says, but there are a couple of black diamond stretches. There’s parking right off County Road 10, but you can also access the network from town on the bike path.
The design lends itself to any length of ride, from a quick half-hour lunch break to the standard three or four-hour sojourn through the scenic piñon and juniper trails. The maximum vertical elevation is 900 feet, but because of the rolling terrain, it’s easy to climb 2-4,000 feet depending on the chosen loops. RAT also includes some rugged, high alpine riding on the other side of Ridgway, the Dallas Trail that parallels the Sneffels range and National Forest. “That’s more expert terrain, from a cardio perspective. It’s about 11,000 feet in elevation and it’s gorgeous.”
Developers were intent on making the wayfinding easy in the network, and they included signs so that no one could get lost. They also had some fun with the naming of the trails, playing off the RAT acronym: the 3-mile entry trail that climbs up 13 switchbacks is appropriately named The Big Cheese. The descent from there, with banked turns and straightaways, is called Ratical. The Plagueround has fun, fast singletrack and can bring you back to the gut of the system and Double Crosser, Rattus Maximus, or Rat Trap.
If you don’t have a bike with you, but want to check out the RAT network, you can always rent some wheels from Cascade Bicycles in Ridgway. Cascade is also a full-service bike shop, for repairs, tubes, and any accessories you might need to keep you rolling. For more information, visit ridgwaytrails.com.