For many people, Glendo Reservoir means boating, fishing and camping.
To Casper cyclist Adam Leiferman, it means mountain bike trails – miles and miles of professionally-built trails. They wind up hills and down ravines, across the prairie and through stands of trees. They are as easy, or as difficult, as a rider of any level could want, he said.
“The trail work is amazing,” Leiferman said. “Whoever has been building the trails has done a fantastic job and has incredible vision. There are hillsides that almost too steep to walk, but you throw in some switchback and can ride down to the shore line and back up. Kudos to anyone involved in building the trails.”
And trails are exactly what Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails hopes more people think of when they drive by Glendo Reservoir.
State Trails has spent eight years on its crusade to build hiking, biking and equestrian trails at state parks throughout the eastern side of Wyoming. Crews recently finished 35 miles of trail at Glendo, more than half of the 50- to 60-mile goal. Officials say the trails bring more users to the parks that aren’t competing with boaters and anglers for space. The state parks department is hosting Glendo’s second trail festival and first mountain bike race Saturday. Eventually, officials say the trails will become a destination for cyclists and hikers from around the country.
Projects started in 2006 with 35 miles of trail at Curt Gowdy State Park between Cheyenne and Laramie. State parks used grant money to hire professional trail contractors and worked with crews from the Wyoming Conservation Corps, National Civilian Community Corps, volunteers and other local organizations. The International Mountain Bicycling Association helped the state plan the trails, said Paul Gritten, state parks’ nonmotorized trails program manager.
Visitor numbers responded. About 56,000 people went to Curt Gowdy in 2006 and 127,000 went in 2012.
“Those are day users for the most part,” Gritten said. “They’re coming into the park and using unused areas of the park, and they’re paying their entry fee through daily fees or annual permits, and they’re going home.”
Riding off of their successes at Curt Gowdy, Gritten turned his sights on Glendo. The state park is made of about 20,000 acres owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, split evenly between land and water. The large amount of land made it appealing, and then Glendo State Park superintendent, Dustin Humphries, pitched the idea.
He is a mountain biker and realized how much of the land around Glendo had the potential for a variety of trails. Work started in 2010, and he isn’t disappointed.
“We have a lot of epic style riding, a lot of technical cross country riding,” Humphreys said. “We also have a variety of trails that fit everyone’s ability.”
He anticipates another 10 miles of trail by the end of the summer, bringing the total miles up to 45. The final portion should be one by the end of 2015, Humphreys predicted.
Formal trails not only provide another type of recreation, but prevent a hodge podge of trails created by users following cow or game paths or creating their own, Gritten said.
“We’re pretty fortunate in state parks that we do have a clean slate to build trails,” he said. “When you build trails from scratch you typically get a better results.”
And riders are starting to discover Glendo. Gritten ran into a couple there recently from Texas who rode at Curt Gowdy on their way up to a wedding in Montana and stopped by Glendo on their way back down, he said.
The trails may not gain the daily following of Curt Gowdy because they’re not as close to two population centers, but the trails will be good and plentiful enough to make the park a destination, Humphreys said.
Glendo is also thousands of feet lower in elevation than other mountain biking trails, meaning it opens earlier in the spring and stays open later in the winter, said Bruce Lamberson, owner of Mountain Sports in Casper.
“It could be a destination,” he said. “I think it will be a slow, steady process as they build out the trails and it gets better recognized, but I don’t see any stopping it.”
The state trails office doesn’t plan on ending with Glendo. Guernsey State Park has 16 miles of rough trails right now that need to be formalized and maybe expanded.
“We’re just trying to get people to see what Glendo State Park is all about,” Gritten said. “It’s not just trails, but once they get in there they will see what a beautiful place it is.”