Early summer brings early trail projects
KEYSTONE – The Oro Grande Trail runs from Dillon to Keystone north of Highway 6, and it is one of the first in the county to open in the spring. With winter’s early departure, trail users and managers wasted no time getting to work on making sure it was in good shape.
Summit County Open Space and Trails employee Holly English and Summit Fat Tire Society’s J.D. Donovan led a dozen volunteers up the county landfill road Saturday, to cut a mile of trail as part of a reroute of the Oro Grande.
“This is going to help connect the other parts and give everyone a continuous dirt alternative to road up to Frey Gulch (the area behind Keystone’s Conference Center),” Donovan said. “This is a big link, and with any luck, we’ll get a mile done today.”
English said the group got a head start from Arrowhead Trails, a Salida-based trails consulting and construction firm. Arrowhead co-owner Tony Boone gave the volunteers a guide by cutting the trail with a SWECO trail bulldozer. Bikers Saturday used rakes, hoes and shovels to add finishing touches to the new trail.
“The biggest thing is water,” English said. “There’s a lot of arguments about what activity has the worst impact on trails, but in truth, if the trail is built properly, it can withstand all kinds of impact. It’s when it’s not built properly that water starts to destroy it. It’s a science to build a trail, but it’s not rocket science.”
Construction and expansion of the garbage dump have forced some minor changes in the trail path, and volunteers said they were anxious to see the trail completed. Craig Minor said he tries to volunteer on at least one trail project a year with the Fat Tire Society. As an employee of the Keystone Science School, he uses the Oro Grande route a lot, he said.
“I’m really psyched they’re doing something with this property up here,” Minor said. “This is a great area, lots of open space. I ride up here quite a bit.”
Donovan and other cyclists said the early beginning to summer in the High Country is bringing out many recreationalists early, as well. Trail projects are important, they said, to maintain and expand the biking areas so users aren’t crammed in the few areas open in the early season. English said, normally, trail projects don’t begin until Memorial Day weekend.
“I think a lot of people gave up early on winter,” Donovan said. “They probably figured, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and they got their bikes out.”
The Fat Tire Society’s next trail project is scheduled for June 22. Crews will tackle the Upper Moonstone area above Carter Park for a reroute of a trail in conjunction with Breckenridge town staff.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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