Plenty of other trails to traverse

Bob Bonnar, NLJ Publisher

Photo by Emily Hartinger, Skull Creek Studio


Flying V Trails Day only a sampling of Weston County’s outdoor rec scene


The annual Cave Man Fun Run and Flying V Trails Day held on Saturday gave local trails enthusiasts a day to stretch their legs and celebrate the development of outdoor recreation opportunities in Weston County, but organizers of the event say they hope it serves as a springboard to a more active summer for residents and visitors alike.


“It’s really about getting people out on the trails,” Caleb Carter told the News Letter Journal on the Top of Main Podcast prior to the May 20 event. “We hope that makes it a little more approachable for people who maybe are nervous about getting out there.”


The Flying V Trail system is particularly welcoming after a grant was received from the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office in 2022 to help improve the trails by widening several miles of it and improving portions that needed a reroute or other improvements. Last weekend’s participants enjoyed over 10 miles of trails and two-track, which are now accessible to new and beginning riders, strollers and adaptive riders. (There are over 17 total miles of trail in the Flying V system.)


“Maybe they will find a new hobby,” Carter suggested.


Plenty of people did make it out to check out the trail improvements at the Flying V on Saturday after a smaller group of hearty trail veterans participated in the morning races, and organizers were pleased with the official kickoff to the outdoor recreation season.


“We had lots of hikers and mountain bikers, and we had an adaptive rider that very much enjoyed the trails,” Carter reported after the event.


He and fellow organizer Jeremy Dedic spearhead a group called Bent Sprockets, which is pursuing a vision to develop and promote local trails “through partnerships, hosting events, and through good old sweat and blisters,” according to their website 


The site also boasts that “Weston County has over 130 miles of trails to explore! These trails are great for mountain biking, hiking, trail running, or even an evening stroll to catch the sunset.”


“That’s a hidden secret I shouldn’t tell you about Weston County,” Dedic said, when he and Carter appeared on the Wyoming Pathway to Adventure Podcast last month to promote the various ecosystems and riding experiences available here.


The duo pitched the Cave Man Fun Run and Flying V Trails Day specifically, but they also talked about the other developed trails in the county, including the Serenity Trail just 2 miles north of Newcastle.


“It’s a good walking trail and has moderate weather. It is open to mountain bikes too,” Dedic said.


The Old Quarry Trails are another recent project, and the work to convert a former rock quarry into a fun mix of trails and scenery is part of an ongoing collaboration on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management just 8 miles east of Newcastle. Most of the trail is on a south-facing slope. So, like the Serenity Trail, it is weather, family and pet friendly.


The Mallo Trail is shorter and more remote than the others but takes in a variety of landscapes — including a spruce forest, which is rare in an area dominated by ponderosa pine and juniper trees. The trail is located 20 miles north of Newcastle and allows people to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Black Hills.


The Bent Sprockets have recently begun sharing information on the Clay Spur Trails on their website as well, and are excited to welcome into the fold a trail system in the central part of Weston County that comprises over 100 miles of single trails originally created for the Inyan Kara Enduro Race — an annual motor bike race typically held in September.


“We are so happy that the Enduro group is willing to share their trails with us. And for all the hard work that they have put into building and maintaining these trails,” the group proclaims on its website.

The trails are primarily on the Thunder Basin National Grassland, but some sections do cross private land and users are asked to be respectful when traversing private property.


“These are historical trails that were probably started 30 years ago, but with a new user group,” Dedic said of the county’s well-worn pathways when he and Carter appeared on the podcast produced by the Wyoming State Parks Office of Outdoor Recreation.


In addition to “good old sweat and blisters,” Bent Sprockets has also tapped into the modern tech associated with outdoor recreation, and its members pride themselves on being “your source for beta on local trails,” according to the website.


That is where riders, runners and hikers can find maps, GPX files and more information about the miles of local trails around Northeast Wyoming. Bent Sprockets also enjoys taking requests for information from people who use the website’s “Contact Us” tab.


“If you want a good challenge, drop me a line and I’ll give you a 40-mile loop that will challenge you,” Dedic promised.


Other events are being planned for this summer, and Carter said it seems like some people are starting to embrace the chance to get outside and take advantage of the wealth of scenery and outdoor recreation infrastructure available in Weston County.


“We’ve already hosted a few group rides on some of the gravel roads around the county earlier this spring and had a really good turn out there,” he said, noting that the group plans to offer some “no-drop” trail rides over the summer to help people give cycling a try.


“That’s where everybody is welcome, no matter your capability. We make sure everybody stays together,” he explained, noting that the group has also heard of interest in hosting no-drop rides for women only.


“That’s something that is gaining a lot of traction around the country,” Carter said on the NLJ’s podcast last week.


True to his word, Bent Sprockets announced on its Facebook page this week that it will be offering Ladies’ Group Mountain Bike Rides this summer, primarily on the Flying V and Old Quarry Trails. The first one is scheduled for May 23.


Toward the end of summer, the group is also planning to partner with the Newcastle High School cross-country team to offer the fourth annual XC Alumni 5K/1K Race/Walk during the community’s Madness on Main Event. Carter also said on the Top of Main Podcast that members were considering hosting an obstacle course for Madness on Main and will also be holding “hill climbs” up hospital hill.


The culminating event for the season will be the 50/50 Bike Race on Oct. 7. The event features both 40- and 100-mile bike races that begin and end in Newcastle. The 100-mile race is filled with beautiful views as it navigates canyons, forest roads and two-tracks on the west side of the Black Hills. It also offers challenging climbs and totals over 7,000 feet of climbing.


“The combination of varying terrain, challenging climbs, and unpredictable weather in early October can make this a very challenging course. The weather could have a big impact on the portion of the course that travels through the USFS National Grassland, as parts of this course is on dirt two-track that can get very sticky in wet conditions. But this is what keeps it interesting!” the Bent Sprockets website proclaims.


Of course, the majority of people who take to the trails of Weston County this summer won’t be up for such a challenge, but Carter said that shouldn’t intimidate them. The work that has been done on local trails has made it easy to find a trailhead and literally “take a hike.”


“Don’t be afraid to just get out there,” Carter urged. “At the Flying V, for example, we have junction signs that have a map of the whole site, the whole trail system and every major junction. The junctions are numbered so you could look at the map and figure out where you are, and look and decide where you want to go next.”


Carter and Dedic hope that they can continue to tap into the state of Wyoming’s renewed interest in promoting outdoor recreation and creating infrastructure to support it. If possible, they would like to continue expanding access to Weston

County’s trails while improving the quality and quantity of routes available to hikers, runners and bikers.


“I would really like to see trail access from town,” Carter said of the proximity of systems such as the Serenity Trail and Old Quarry Trails to Newcastle. “I think we have some options and opportunities to get some trails that are directly accessible to town.”


He said the ultimate dream, however, is to build a trail from the Old Quarry Trails to Mallo Trail.


“There’s some fun, beautiful, neat country between those trail systems, and currently there’s nothing of that length over here on the west side of the Hills,” Carter reasoned.

New map makes it easy to pick a path

The News Letter Journal produced a new “Weston County Trails Map” this spring, and this summer it will be easier than ever for residents and visitors alike to take a hike or ride their bike in Weston County.

The two-sided color maps provide detailed overviews of the Serenity, Mallo, Old Quarry and Flying V Trail systems. 


The maps were funded in part by the Weston County Travel Commission and also supported by local advertisers. They provide directions to each of the trailheads, and keys on each individual trail map indicate the degree of difficulty presented on different portions of the trails.


There are also “QR code” links on the front and back of the maps that allow trail-seekers to find other trail information on the Bent Sprockets website, as well as information about other outdoor recreation opportunities from the website operated by the Weston County Travel Commission.


Copies of the Weston County Trails Map can be picked up at the News Letter Journal office or at other locations around Weston County. It can also be viewed online at


News Letter Journal

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P.O. Box 40
Newcastle, WY 82701
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