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CHS Today

New Proposed Trail System on Campus

School administration along with the mountain bike team is currently working to get a plan for an on campus trail system approved.
The Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) helped to design the map alongside Conifer High School that displays the current plan for the new trail. “I think it’s really fun to have an organization like COMBA to design the trail because they’ve done so many trails, so they usually make them really fun. All the trails around here have been designed as multi-use. So if the trail use is narrowed down to mountain biking and cross country I think that the terrain can be a little bit more fun,” Hobgood said. Map provided by Ben Hobgood.

Buried in 105 acres of unique mountain terrain lies Conifer High School’s vast campus; of these 105 acres of land owned by CHS, only about half are put to use. Aside from the occasional game trail and social paths scattered throughout, the rest of the campus remains undeveloped. Recently, plans have been devised to build a connected trail system throughout school grounds, a project that stands to benefit several teams and classes at Conifer. However, this plan isn’t a reality yet because of several challenges that come along with putting in a trail on a high school campus. 

“The district has to approve [the trail], it is a high-risk activity because they have several categories to check off and mountain biking is one of them. Then there’s some standard stuff like modifications of your campus and there are check boxes that have to be approved in terms of our facilities,” CHS Principal Gregory Manier said. 

Currently, the proposal has been submitted to the district for approval but has not yet been reviewed. Aside from the standard issues that need to be approved, safety is the biggest concern for Jeffco. Even if the trail is approved by the district, there are a few other obstacles that stand in the way of making these trails a possibility. 

Raising the money to get the resources, labor, and machines to build the trail is a major issue the project is currently facing. There are several budget options based on three different approaches that can be taken for constructing the trail. The least expensive of the three is to rent machines for the difficult sections and use volunteers to build the rest, with the cost averaging around 37,000 dollars. The most likely option because of cost and contractors would be to hire a contractor from the Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA), the cost would be around 71,000 dollars. COMBA is already helping to design and plan the trail, but a contractor would help operate machines and build the trail alongside volunteers. The more unlikely option, with a cost of around 239,000 dollars, would be to hire an outside contractor to build the trail. None of these options come cheap, so finding the funds to create the trail is challenging, but not impossible. 

“We have a few ideas for fundraising, there’s a lot of invested families here in the mountains that would want to participate, once we have the approval we could market this to our entire community in terms of support. The mountain bike team and the cross country team and those programs would be important places to start,” Manier said.  

If the proposal for the trail system passes, then fundraising can start.  Potential sources of fundraising would be the various programs (cross country and mountain biking) that would be utilizing the trials, as well as the Conifer Lobos Unified Boosters. Aside from fundraising, money from grants and state funds (GOCO) remains a possibility as well. Funding and district approval are hurdles to overcome to make the trail a reality, and the same goes for finding volunteers. 

“Some spots get really complicated with trail work, a lot of earth needs to be moved and erosion controlled, so to take care of those things a lot of people are needed,” Conifer mountain bike coach Ben Hobgood said. 

Alongside Manier and COMBA, Hobgood and other CHS mountain bike coaches have been working to bring the trail to life. Loose ideas of what this trail could become and where it would be on school property have been thought up over the years, but for the first time ever, progress is being made toward turning this into a reality. 

“I’ve always thought that [the school property] is a really prime spot for an amazing trail and if we could put one together it would get a lot of use,” Conifer Cross Country Coach Ben Anderson said. 

Though many hurdles still stand in the way, the plan to make this happen is coming together. If these obstacles can be beaten, a course of action is set in place to turn the trail into more than just a fantasy. 

“If all goes well, the hope is that we could start [building the trail] this summer,” Manier said. 

The trailhead would be based around the tennis courts and mainly traverse throughout the north side of campus. It would be a series of smaller loops joining into one big loop, as well as some other additions connecting to different parts of the campus. The trail will be about two miles initially, however, may grow to eventually be around four and a half miles. 

The trail plan is split into three phases. Phase One is the most expensive and would include a section of trail that is multi-use and bi-directional, and if approved, a down-hill-only option. Phase Two would extend the trail down the north side of the property and between the football and baseball fields, as well as another trail parallel to the road for kids to walk. Phase Three would further expand the trail past all fields and across the road onto the south side of the property. 

I really hope we can do it. I would love it, absolutely love it.

— Gregory Manier

It is still unclear how long construction of the trail will take. This is only the proposed plan, modifications may later be made. 

“Some spots get really complicated with trail work, a lot of earth needs to be moved and erosion controlled, so to take care of those things all of lot people are needed,” Hobgood said. 

This is where COMBA and other volunteers come in. If a contractor for COMBA is hired out, they can bring machinery and work on the more difficult section of the trail. Volunteers and experts will then complete the trail. 

“It’s not a new idea, people have thought about it for a while and there’s even some existing trail if you go hiking around on the property. We’ve got a very active group of coaches with the Conifer Mountain Bike League and I think people thought that it would just be really cool to have a trail on campus to cut down on drive time and to just make it a safer and private environment,” Hobgood said. 

The trail would provide a new venue for the Mountain Bike team to practice, that is both easy to access and private from the public. With a trail right on campus, the team is already there and saves a significant amount of driving time. Not only will the trail be used by the mountain bike team, but it can be put to use by the cross-country team as well.

“Our cross country team has to run over to Flying J, and it would eliminate us having kids run on 73 because eventually, something could happen if continue to have kids running on the highway,” Manier said. 

The cross-country team doesn’t necessarily need a trail to run on, but when it comes to running on the busy roads within Conifer, they are putting themselves at risk. With a trail on campus, they wouldn’t have to leave and therefore wouldn’t need to risk running on the road.  Despite there being safety concerns about building the actual trail, when it comes to cross country the trail will lead to a safer environment for running. The trail unfortunately won’t be open to the public, however it could stand to benefit other students at Conifer High School who aren’t a part of the cross country or mountain bike team. Students in different science classes could use the trail to explore and traverse outdoors and some fitness classes may use it for running as well. 

 “This [trail] would be unique on its own, we’re looking into this and we don’t believe that any other high schools have mountain bike trails that are on their property. Green Mountain and Evergreen have adjoining trails but they’re not on their property. This would be pretty right here on Conifer campus so that would be really unique and cool,” Manier said.

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