History of Durango Trails

History of Durango Trails

Great ideas often grow into great movements

In the early 1980s, four Durango locals who were trail users and mountain bikers, first hatched such an idea. Bob Allen, David Bode, Mike Finney and Scott Fleming were enjoying lunch at Olde Tymer’s Cafe on Main Avenue when the conversation turned to the imminent growth and development of Durango, and how the existing trail system would need to be protected.

The four eventually shared their thoughts and concerns with Ed Zink, Durango native and owner of the Outdoorsmen (now Mountain Bike Specialists), who then reached out to Sally Wisely, then the regional director of the Bureau of Land Management. Together, they dreamed up the formation of an independent trail group that would interface with the local land agencies, and Trails 2000 was born.

The story goes that the group’s first board of directors had a two-part goal: preserve and protect Durango’s existing trail network, and build 200 miles of trail by the year 2000. Longtime Durango and trails enthusiast Bill Manning was tapped to run the organization and he kicked off his work by recruiting volunteers to build trails for the first ever unified World Mountain Biking Championships, held in Durango in 1990.

Not long after, a group of directors was formed and trailwork commenced on the Telegraph Trail System, not far from Durango’s east side. From there, Trails 2000 secured many of the easements for trail access on private lands in Horse Gulch. The group then turned its attention to the town’s west side and raised funds for the City’s first open space acquisition at Durango Mountain Park (now Overend Mountain Park). $55,000 was raised to kick off the City’s first open space purchase and a great movement began to pick up momentum.

Daryl Crites, longtime Trails 2000 board member, kicked off the preservation of the Horse Gulch area. In the early 1990s, he approached Noel Pautsky, owner of the vast area, about preserving its many trails with permanent easements. Pautsky agreed and Crites went to work surveying all of the trails, including Crites Connect, Telegraph, and Anasazi descent. Pautsky eventually gifted the easement to La Plata County in perpetuity.

Manning passed the leadership torch to current director, Mary Monroe Brown, in November of 2005. Brown has grown the organization, created partnerships with all area land managers, and enhanced the organization’s structure and strategic plan. Working with the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, City Open Space, La Plata County, and private landowners, Durango Trails has created a system of trails that expands from urban interface, to mid-country, to high country trails. Staff includes trained and certified crew leaders who lead 400-600 volunteers each season, and the board of directors includes five dedicated community members. The initial partnership laid the groundwork for a series of recent open space purchases in Horse Gulch by the City of Durango. In addition, Trails 2000 facilitated an easement, opening legal access to Raider Ridge in 2009.

The acquisitions have promised that the trails network and the pristine lands surrounding it will be preserved in perpetuity and enjoyed by Durangoans and visitors for generations to come.

In 2020, Trails 2000 celebrated its 30th anniversary, marking the occasion with a name change to Durango Trails. Looking back over the past 30 years, Durango Trails is proud to have met its many goals, including creating 200 miles of trail by the year 2000. Durango now has over 300 miles of trail within 30 minutes of downtown.

Looking to the future, the organization will continue to evolve as it plans, builds and maintains trails, educates trail users and creates connections. The spirit that created Durango Trails is now captured in the organization’s tag line,

“Great trails build great communities, and great communities build great trails.”

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Great communities build great trails and great trails build great communities.