Dillon Ranger District plans over 10 recreational projects to upgrade and maintain trails in and around Summit County
Nonprofit group Friends of the Dillon Ranger District recruits volunteers to work on these projects and more from May through September
The number of Summit County’s summer visitors outpaced pre-pandemic levels last year, and these trends don’t seem to be slowing down.
As the county continues to draw in flocks of people from across the country, the team at the Dillon Ranger District hustles to prioritize trail maintenance and upgrades to keep trails safe and enjoyable.
This year, the Dillon Ranger District has quite a few projects scheduled to occur this summer season. All of them will launch in May, and construction will continue until the first snowfall later this year.
Of the projects scheduled, some of the most notable ones include completing some trail reconstruction, replacing a bridge and installing directional signage at the upper part of Spruce Creek Trail; reconstruction on the upper part of Miners Creek Road and beginning on the reconstruction of Surprise Lake Trail.
Tyler Kirkpatrick, wilderness, trails and motorized recreation manager with the Dillon Ranger District, said his team has a long-running list of all the projects that need to be completed within the district. Though Kirkpatrick called this “a lifetime of work,” he said projects are prioritized based on the safety of the trail followed by the user experience.
Both Tyler Kirkpatrick and District Ranger Adam Bianchi pointed to the district’s partners for helping the organization tackle and complete all of these before the snow begins to fall. Namely, some of these partners include Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Colorado Trail Foundation.
Kirkpatrick said with the help of these partners, the district is able to launch large-scale undertakings that keep the Dillon Ranger District’s trail systems in good shape. Each project costs between $50,000 and $100,000, and some take multiple years to complete.
Spruce Creek Trail
Kirkpatrick said on any given day, 50 to 100 cars might be parked at the Spruce Creek trailhead located near Breckenridge. It climbs nearly 2,000 feet and is about 3.4 miles one way.
The upper part of this trail will receive some trail reconstruction, a bridge will be replaced and more signage will be added too. Kirkpatrick said all of this work will mitigate some of the wear-and-tear on the trail since it’s a popular one in the county.
“The majority of the land in Summit County is national forest system land and it is certainly getting loved, maybe a little too much,” Kirkpatrick said.
This project will require the closure of Spruce Creek for about a month late this summer. Kirkpatrick encouraged recreationists to check the Dillon Ranger District’s website for additional updates.
Miners Creek Road
This season will mark the fourth year the Dillon Ranger District has performed reconstruction work on Miners Creek Road in Frisco. Kirkpatrick said that’s because its accessibility is a challenge, making the project difficult to execute.
Similar to Spruce Creek, the trail needs upgrades because it’s old. The work being done will upgrade it to modern standards so it’s sustainable and more enjoyable for people to use. The road is about 2.5 miles one way and climbs about 833 feet.
Surprise Lake Trail
At the end of April, the Dillon Ranger District will have wrapped up its analysis on Surprise Lake near Heeney, required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The analysis ensures that the district’s proposed trail reconstruction will go according to plan, and if that happens, Kirkpatrick said the multi-year project will be approved to kick off this year.
How to get involved
For those looking to get involved in assisting the Dillon Ranger District with these projects and more, Bianchi pointed to the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. Doozie Martin, program manager with the nonprofit, said once projects are planned — which usually begins in May — the organization will have sign ups for those looking to participate. Martin said the organization usually hosts about 60 in-field projects throughout the season.
“We try to utilize as much help as we can because (we) really need it,” Bianchi said. “The Forest Service alone does not have enough hands to be able to manage a lot of the trail networks as our community desires.”
For more information on the nonprofit’s opportunities, visit fdrd.org.
A mountain biker pedals pass the aspen trees on Boreas Pass Road on Sept. 12, 2018 in Breckenridge. Boreas Pass Road is one area in the county that is scheduled to get some work done this season by the Dillon Ranger District. | Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News archive
Wheeler trail: Replace the bridge on the Copper Mountain side of the the trail, which was destroyed by an avalanche
One-Step Over Trail and Bookcase Trail: Heavy trail maintenance
Peaks Trail and Zach’s Stop: Replace the boardwalk
Tenderfoot Mountain Trail System: Maintenance and new trail construction
Lower Boulder Creek Trail: Replace the ridge
Eagles Nest Wilderness: Crosscut saw trail clearing across 110 miles
Boreas Pass Road and Peru Creek Road: Implementing designated dispersed camping sites
Various implementation of projects on ski areas, such as the Bergman Bowl expansion at Keystone Ski Resort
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