Outdoor recreation with a multitude of opportunities. Healthy choices. Clean air. More than 300 days of sunshine. Mesa County is being more and more recognized as the one of the places to live, work, and play in Colorado, and one of the best places – only minutes from downtown Grand Junction – is the historic Old Spanish Trail that winds its way from Whitewater to Orchard Mesa.

North Branch Chapter President Jonathan Carr leads a group of trail advocates during the First Annual Back to the Trail event.

The “Back to the Trail” event, in October, 2016 and 2017, was a true partnership effort. The event was funded by the National Park Foundation, through its Active Trails grant program, with coordination through the National Park Service Co-Administrators of the OSNHT. The grant proposal was written by Kay Simonson, Lead Planner for Mesa County, Vicki Felmlee, Colorado State Director for the Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA), and Coreen Donnelly of the National Trails Intermountain Region – National Park Service office. The grant resulted in trailhead improvements and signage, and celebratory active recreational events, such as hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use along the Trail in Mesa County, CO. Now this section of the Trail, that has been available to the public for more than 20 years, is more accessible and clearly identified as a recreational retracement section of the OSNHT. Secured through partnerships with the BLM and Mesa County, the trail is moderate enough for beginners and gives spectacular views of the Gunnison River and desert landscapes.

This project is a model for other recreational development along the OSNHT.