Steamboat Springs If you didn’t ride it last year, it should be at the top of your list this year. The new Beall Trail (pronounced “Bell”) was completed late last fall on Emerald Mountain, and it opened for the season last weekend. The trail is on the backside of Emerald Mountain in the Special Recreation Area owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
The trail is named after Ben Beall, who was chairman of the Emerald Mountain Partnership for 13 years and instrumental in successfully negotiating the land exchange between the State Land Board and the BLM in 2007. The 13-year process yielded the largest land swap in Colorado history, adding 4,193 acres of land designated for public use by the BLM called the Special Recreation Area on Emerald Mountain.
Routt County Riders bicycle club and the BLM collaborated in 2009 to write a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado for funds to build a new trail in the Special Recreation Area. The BLM matched 10 percent of the $35,000 awarded from GOCo, generating the funds necessary to complete construction of the 6.7-mile multiuse trail.
The Beall Trail was designed by Marc and Gretchen Sehler and built with help from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Craig Hot Shots fire crew. This team of dedicated people has created one of the most beautiful trails in the state.
You can get to the Beall Trail from two places — the top of Emerald Mountain, or via Routt County Road 45, known as Cow Creek Road.
From downtown Steamboat Springs, ride up your favorite Emerald Mountain trail and connect with the Quarry Mountain Trail. The Quarry Mountain Trail leads to the two-track road along the top ridge of Emerald Mountain. Follow the road west to the BLM sign and the start of the Ridge Trail. The Beall Trail begins just to the left of the Ridge Trail.
The descent is a lot of fun. You’ll traverse downhill across the mountain with a gentle grade on beautiful non-technical singletrack. There are a few ups and downs along the way and some trickier sections here and there, but you don’t have to be an expert mountain biker to enjoy this trail. The Beall Trail offers surprising views of Rabbit Ears Pass, the Flat Tops Wilderness Area and the ranch land surrounding Steamboat. You’ll meander through open meadows, pine forests, aspen groves and the beautiful gamble oak forest that is so prevalent on Emerald Mountain. The beauty of this area cannot be described. You have to ride this trail and experience it for yourself.
You have two options when you eventually reach Cow Creek Road — turn around and ride back up the Beall Trail, or head about 2 miles west on Cow Creek Road to the start of the Ridge Trail and a climb back to the top of Emerald Mountain.
The Beall Trail has added a great new loop ride on Emerald Mountain. And the best news is that there’s yet another trail in the works in the Special Recreation Area. This year should see completion of the Rotary Trail just west of the Ridge Trail. The Rotary Trail will provide a wonderful contrast to the climbs of the Ridge and Beall trails, as it is designed to gently roll through the lower section of the Special Recreation Area without much elevation gain. Once completed, you will be able to ride all three trails in one massive loop.
The Beall Trail is a tribute to the spirit of collaboration so prevalent in Northwest Colorado. Many people worked together to create this trail, which will be a legacy for many generations of outdoor enthusiasts to come. So as you are out enjoying any of our fabulous trails this summer and fall, take a moment to pay tribute to all those who made your enjoyment possible. You can also support outdoor recreation in our area by volunteering for a trail work day this summer. Spend a day helping give back and learn how you can become a steward of the trails.