Trail Moments | A Path Forward for Better Biking in Roswell, New Mexico
This article is part of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trail Moments initiative—to elevate new and tried-and-true trail voices around the country, and how trails impact the lives of Americans. Learn more at trailmoments.org and #TrailMoments on social media. Share your story, or view a collection of trail moments stories.
“Talking about trails and trying to make improvements to the city’s trail system is a way for me to give back to the people that took us in."
—Daniel Cederberg, owner of Moonrock Outfitters in Roswell, New Mexico
Outdoor excursions bring my thoughts and emotions in line, creating a clear space in my mind to think, create and meditate. Being able to bring this mind-body connection to others has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
My wife, Megan, and I moved to Roswell in 2015 to work at Stellar Coffee Co. I had been a professional barista since I was 14 at my parent’s café in Watertown, Wisconsin, which made being the manager for Stellar a perfect fit. Four years later, I was looking for something new and fresh, wanting to steer my career path toward something more adventurous and active. Megan at the same time was dreaming big with Anne Baker, the owner of Stellar, to create a bike shop at the back of the coffee shop. The idea took off, and Moonrock Outfitters opened its doors on the first day of 2019.
The timing was perfect as Steve Brooks, the owner of local bike shop Alien Outlaw Bikes, decided to retire and close his doors. I had frequented Steve’s bike shop before, and I was able to reach out and create a relationship. Tools, parts and knowledge were all commodities traded and bartered between us. It was a smooth hand-off, and we were excited to launch our business with the goal of providing a healthy way for people to move around and recreate in the area, including offering bikes, skateboards and paddle boards, as well as organizing group rides and repairing bicycles.
We love the adventures that trails bring—seeing what lies beyond the next bend, drop, curve or climb. Roswell has two main trails in the downtown area, which provide safe ways to transport yourself across the city while avoiding traffic. They’ve also provided great spaces for us to offer clean-up rides, garden rides and after-dark glow rides for residents to get out and experience more of the community.
The Spring River Recreation Trail, a paved 4-mile pathway across the city, connects five parks and a handful of beautiful gardens. It connects you to nature and allows users to slow down and literally smell the flowers! The trail also connects many recreational amenities and attractions, including a disc golf course, a bird sanctuary, recreational areas for basketball and tennis, the Roswell Museum and Arts Center and the Spring River Zoo. It has given the community a great outlet to ride bikes, skate, walk or just enjoy the outdoors with their friends and family.
The milelong Hondo River Recreation Trail, located in the southeastern area of the city, is a more industrial trail that has not been fully completed. We hope to see the city expand and improve the trail.
Outside of town, the scenic highways and county roads provide a healthy sense of connection to the land. Watching the desert change from yellow-brown to all the colors that wildflowers bring in the spring is a wonderful experience. Roswell has a nice selection of state parks and nature preserves that Moonrock and locals utilize for adventure and recreation. Some favorites are the Salt Creek Wilderness, Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lake State Park. They are all found outside of the city, around a 15-minute drive away—and close enough to bike to! Moonrock’s first group ride was out to the Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge, then back into the sunset with Capitan Mountain, Sierra Blanca and Cloud Croft all appearing over the horizon.
Related: Top 10 Trails in New Mexico
An Exciting Future
The bike shop has changed my life in ways that I could not have imagined—connecting me with a caring community of clients, coworkers and friends. We would not have been successful in our move from Wisconsin without the welcoming people of Roswell. Talking about trails and trying to make improvements to the city’s trail system is a way for me to give back to the people that took us in.
The cycling community in Roswell continues to grow, and so does the need for more trails. In December 2021, Moonrock created a Roswell Greater Area Trails petition to increase awareness about trail opportunities and raise community support for such projects. We believe there could be a north–south trail connection in Roswell, and a trail connecting the Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Bottomless Lakes State Park. We’re watching the development of comments and signees on the petition website, and hope to present it to the city council and departments of transportation and health to show widespread support for extending existing trails and creating bike lanes in the city.
My friend David Vasquez and I are also in contact with the Bureau of Land Management about the potential development of a mountain biking route around Bitter Lakes. The loop would start in town with the Spring River Recreation Trail, take old county roads, then head under the railroad tracks. It would continue to a water crossing, then climb a long and steady grade up the bluffs overlooking the Pecos River as it winds southward. These cap rock bluffs have been sculpted by centuries of water movement, leaving a string of striking sinkholes, called cenotes, on the landscape; some of them have 40-foot walls with the churning deep water below fed by cool springs.
A second potential route, proposed for development by the community, follows the Pecos riverbed from Bitter Lakes to Bottomless Lake State Park, which is such a beautiful place to spend the summers, and an outdoor escape from town.
Roswell is a secluded city that presents challenges when biking through the surrounding desert. Understanding these surroundings and how to prepare for this harsh, unforgiving environment gives one a different perspective—one that strengthens you as a person and shows you how resilient life can be. One of my favorite memories was when Megan and I took an old back road not far from the city, called Old Chaves Road, to the Salt Creek Wilderness. The road was in the process of being reclaimed by nature—bushes, flowers and cactuses were popping up in the middle—and we camped next to a deep cenote. We listened to the coyotes calling in the night, and in the morning, were awestruck by the swallows swirling out of the mouth of the sinkhole.
It has been astounding to see the different types of people we’ve met since opening our doors behind Stellar Coffee to now—just this year—having a Main Street storefront. Through our business, we love helping outdoor enthusiasts understand and experience the joys of this unique community.
Share Your Trail Moment
Have you recently discovered trails, or are you a long-time trail enthusiast? Either way, we hope you’ll share your “Trail Moments”—and the stories of how trails have impacted your life during COVID-19. Take the survey below, or share using #TrailMoments on social media.