(Lander, WY) – Cyclists celebrated the official opening of a downhill optimized trail last weekend at the Johnny Behind the Rocks (JBR) Trail System southeast of Lander. JBR, managed by the Bureau of Land Management Lander Field Office, is a popular non-motorized, multiple use trail area with opportunities for all skill levels.
As a result of ongoing conversation with the community about the JBR trails, the BLM was alerted to potential safety and user conflict situations on the Johnny’s Draw Trail, stemming from fast downhill traffic. The new trail offers an alternative downhill route that will attract all skill levels of cyclists seeking a downhill optimized experience, significantly reducing downhill traffic on Johnny’s Draw.
Through a BLM-funded assistance agreement with Wyoming Pathways, Trail Co. Inc. was contracted to design and build the trail, with owner and Lander resident Alan Mandel at the helm.
“From his start with us as a teenage volunteer at Johnny Behind the Rocks to professional builds around the globe, our community has had a front row seat to Alan Mandel’s development as a certified and eventual master of the trail building craft,” said BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Jared Oakleaf. “The completion of this trail brings it full circle and in turn elevates the community-based aspect of this trail system to a whole other level.”
Mandel was on-hand Saturday to orient riders to the new trail and take a few laps himself. “It’s a huge opportunity for Lander and a dream come true for me,” Mandel said about the achievement.
It’s been 12 years since the BLM, Lander Cycling Club and community members hosted the first trail day at JBR—a reroute of the Johnny’s Draw Trail. Since then, dozens of workdays have resulted in countless trail improvements, reroutes and new construction. These workdays are often headed-up by Lander Cycling, and many of its members attended the trail opening.
“Building trails doesn’t happen overnight,” said Lander Cycling Club Executive Director Ami McAlpin. “Before the club began working collaboratively with the BLM at JBR in 2010, riders and hikers followed crude cow trails with sustainability issues. We’re so grateful for the volunteers who have dedicated thousands of hours and club members who invest in our local trail systems. We couldn’t be more excited about the new expert downhill section constructed by Alan Mandel and his company.”
Large, contracted projects at JBR are possible through the BLM’s cooperative agreement with Wyoming Pathways, which leverages shared resources and interest to implement trail-based planning decisions across BLM-managed public lands.
“It certainly seems like this trail will be a significant boost to the trail repertoire in Wyoming and should add to the local economy with a potential new and unique visitor set,” said Wyoming Pathways Executive Director Michael Kusiek. “And while it’s a serious trail for folks who ride freeride style at a high level, the beauty of it is in the build—Alan Mandel is an absolute genius at building trail that suits all levels without compromising quality.”
The origins of JBR improvements can be traced back to the BLM Master Trails Plan, completed in 2016 with substantial public input and community support. The plan authorizes future trails with the goal of providing diverse trail experiences for all non-motorized users.
“Thank you to the greater Lander community, Wyoming Pathways, Lander Cycling and many other partners,” said Oakleaf. “These purpose-built trail systems can only happen when users take on a larger stewardship role of their public lands.”
“Cheers to more trails, more partnerships and more people on bikes!” McAlpin added.
To learn more about upcoming projects at JBR, contact Oakleaf at 307-332-8400 or [email protected]. Learn more about JBR at blm.gov/visit/johnny-behind-rocks and about our partners by visiting landercycling.org and wyopath.org.