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WORLD CLASS PATH

BY GLEN ROSALES

FOR THE JOURNAL

The 16-mile ribbon of pavement that stretches from the southern tip to the northern extreme of Albuquerque, winding through the shady environs of the North Valley and South Valley is a cherished windfall for local outdoor enthusiasts.

Some 235,000 runners, joggers, dog-walkers and stroller-pushers annually enjoy the Paseo del Bosque trail, said Dave Simon, director of the City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department.

Don’t discount the cyclists who cherish the rare, paved path that is uninterrupted by vehicle cross roads.

“Those are numbers a medium-sized national park sees,” Simon said of the trail’s visitation. “It’s very, very popular.”

Local writer Dave Bexfield, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said the trail is a significant boon to his quality of life.

He started with a trike, then moved to a handcycle when the disease progressed so far that it limited the use of his legs.

“That opened up all sorts of doors for me,” Bexfield said of the hand cycle. “I go faster. These days, I go about 1,000 miles year. I ride 150 days out of the year and a couple of times a week on the actual Bosque Trail. It has changed my world. It’s something I look forward to do doing every weekend.”

The trial has gathered numerous honors, the latest coming in the spring when Santa Fe-based Outdoor Magazine named it one of “The 25 Best Runs in the World Right Now.”

Outdoor grouped it with iconic trails in the Alps, Hong Kong and South Africa.

What Bexfield really appreciates is the stretch off the main trail that’s closer to the bosque itself and is covered in crusher fine.

“The off-road section, from Tingley to Montaño; the first time I got on that crusher fine, I literally teared up because as someone who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, it’s extremely hard for me to get into the woods and exercise and that was the first time I was able to do that,” he said. “That changed my world. And that’s one of the reasons I have to go back again and again, to get out there and experience the outdoors.”

Simon said that project was controversial at the time, but has since become a popular area.

He is among the proponents of extending farther, particularly toward the south.

A likely first step would be extend the trail about two miles through unincorporated Bernalillo County to reach the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.

Then from there, Simon said, linking it into the still-be-developed Rio Grande Trail that would follow the river, stretching from Colorado to Texas. Creating partnerships with the various shareholders and land owners throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley is the ultimate key to the proposed 400-mile trail, he said, but the Bosque Trail would be a key component.

“This (Bosque) trail is a fantastic success for the community and the region,” he said. “People really appreciate the benefit of the trial. It’s sort of a physical, mental and spiritual experience. And these long distance trails in particular have been shown across the country to do wonderful things for communities and regions. And we have a wonderful opportunity to extend the Bosque Trail into the Rio Grande Trail.”

BRIGHT SPOT

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