HISTORY OF TRAILS IN OUR REGION
Human occupation of this region has been traced back over 12 000 years, long before written recorded history. European settlers’ history records human inhabitants more than 700 years ago. They were primarily people of the Ute nation, specifically Uncompahgre and Tabeguache tribes, who called Pikes Peak Tava, or Sun Mountain. Later inhabitants of the region included Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne, and Arapaho peoples.
These people were the original custodians of this land and its trails, until – beginning in the 1800’s – they were forcibly removed by white settlers. Today, all of us ride, travel, and find solace and healing on land that was stolen from these original stewards. As uninvited guests upon these lands, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates recognizes and honors the original custodians of the trails and spaces surrounding Tava, as well as their living descendants.
Efforts to erase the presence of Indigenous peoples continue today in the United States and other settler colonies. Land acknowledgements, such as this one, serve in a small way to remind us of the history, contributions and sacrifices made by Indigenous peoples.
MedWheel is committed to inclusion, anti-racism, and equity. We are committed to reversing the impacts of generational oppression and environmental colonialism. While MedWheel cannot return the land to its original inhabitants, we can respectfully and responsibly care for it while building heathful, non-oppressive relationships on it.
What’s in a name?
The name Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates originated in 1991 with one of our organization’s founders, Brian Gravestock. Mr. Gravestock found mental and physical healing from being on this region’s trails, and he appreciated the connection to nature that the emerging sport of mountain biking offered him and his fellow trail users. In a world increasingly dominated by development and technology, mountain biking helped to ground and connect him, and he soon became one of the new sport’s most passionate adopters.
Mr. Gravestock recognized the potential impacts of mountain biking on the environment and on existing users.He decided to create a trail advocacy organization to build & repair trails AND to build & repair relationships with other users. Since its formation, MedWheel has continuously taken an inclusive approach to land use discussions and cooperated with existing users including hikers, trail runners, equestrians and motorcycle riders.
Drawing from his own connections to Native American spirituality, and his commitment to inclusive and collaborative relationships with land managers and other users, Mr. Gravestock chose the name and imagery of the Medicine Wheel for the then new trail organization since it would symbolize human-environmental interconnection and personal development.
Today, MedWheel continues this tradition and spirit seeking creative opportunities for collaboration, and by healing our trails through the Trail Love program.
MedWheel is a registered 501(c)3 non profit. We are a member of IMBA local and the Colorado Mountain Bike Coalition.
Mission: We are mountain bikers who build, share and protect inspiring trail experiences.
Vision: To create a world class network of mountain bike trails in the Pikes Peak Region
Values: Recreation, Conservation, Collaboration, Inclusivity, Integrity, Bicycling
Some of MedWheel’s major milestones include
1990s – Emergence of the sport of mountain biking. Recognition of the need to repair trails and build relationships with other users and land managers. Supported by local bike shops and enthusiastic riders, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates was formed. Partnerships with equestrians and motorcycle groups led to trail projects around the region.
Early 2000s – built MTB trails in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Bear Creek County Park
2005 – Began construction of a MTB skills park in Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
2011 – Bird Flu rogue DH trail in Garden of the Gods – MedWheel took a lead role to close this illegal trail located in a sensitive area of a nationally recognized city park.
2012 – constructed Stephanie’s Trail in Bear Creek.
2013 – participated in the creation of the COS Parks SuperFriends, a coalition of Friends groups in the region. A MWTA volunteer served as the first chair of the group.
2013 – constructed Spring Creek Trail
2013 – hired a mechanical contractor for the first time to create a new entrance to the Palmer Trail. The trail was one of few that withstood the massive flooding a few weeks later, highlighting the strength of professionally designed and built trails.
2014 – City of Colorado Springs Parks System Master Plan – MedWheel advocated for improved access to DH MTB trails and other emerging recreation trends through the parks system.
2015 – MWTA became a chapter of IMBA in order to better leverage IMBA’s capabilities for advocacy
2015 began construction of the expert-level Codell trail in Red Rock Canyon OS
2015-2019: Ute Valley Park master plan – MWTA successfully used the 2014 system plan to lobby for the area’s first DH-only MTB trails. We were also successful in having a professionally-built MTB skills park in Ute.
2019 – secured grant funding to support COS Parks’ construction of El Pomar Youth Bike Park, a beginner skills develop park adjacent to Hillside Community Center.
2019 – the Chutes trail – the site of significant user conflicts, MWTA lobbied for the first major reroute of an existing trail to separate DH MTB from other uses.
1998-2018 The Lake Moraine Trail – a 20+ year project to connect 2 trails systems across the face of Pikes Peak. This project was epic, involving multiple land agencies, a railway and multiple water crossings, a change in policy at CS Utilities, a lawsuit related to the endangered species act, and other challenges. The project was successfully completed in 2018, all through volunteer work. Passion drove this project, and we honed our advocacy/lobbying skills along the way, but completion of this project made us realized that an all-volunteer model wasn’t sustainable in the long run
2019 – recognizing the need and expanding opportunities for trail networks in the region, MWTA hired a director to run the organization. Since then we have implemented improvements to the structures that support our mainly-volunteer work, as well as unprecedented advocacy success through master planning processes.
2020 – Expanded our Trail Love volunteer dig days, through a major health shutdown
2022 – MedWheel with partners Kids on Bikes and Cheyenne Mountain HS race team, constructed Cresta Bike Park.