So long, ‘pirate’ singletrack
EDWARDS — Eagle County’s singletrack system has received many new additions throughout the past few years, but riders and hikers have also recently noticed that one trail has gone missing.
A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Forest Service destroyed two sections of what they called “pirate” trails near Berry Creek Road that sat above a popular section of singletrack known as Endo Alley. The decommissioning of the trail involved tearing up much of the singletrack, reseeding the ground and blocking entrances. It was part of a project done in partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association to re-route and repair the much-ridden Endo Alley.
The upper trails that were destroyed were never approved by the Forest Service or built according to environmental and sustainability guidelines, said Aaron Mayville, deputy district ranger for Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District.
“The trails were user-created, illegal routes,” he said. “If trails aren’t properly built and planned, they aren’t sustainable. It’s part of our stewardship of the land to try and keep use to a designated system, so we can manage it and manage the environmental effects … Decommissioning illegal trails is something we do regularly when we have the chance and the resources.”
A trail lost, but many gained
The couple miles of destroyed trails have existed for years, used by hikers and riders who discovered them. Jamie Malin, a local bike shop owner and organizer with the VVMBA, said that the organization respects the decision of the Forest Service.
“It was a Forest Service decision. It was not a legal trail, and it was crossing private property. When any trail doesn’t have legal access, it doesn’t matter if it was fun or sustainable or anything else,” he said. “As a mountain bike rider, I like a fun trail, but you do have to go through the correct channels. By partnering with the Forest Service, we’ve built trust and gotten a lot done in the past few years.”
For example, the Endo Alley re-routing project took a rough trail that was subject to erosion and transformed it in to a more sustainable, flowing route. With the aid of a grant, the VVMBA and Forest Service enlisted the help of Momentum Trail Concepts to do mechanized work on the trail, as well.
Local rider Ciro Zarate said he was disappointed to hear that the upper Berry Creek trails were destroyed, but that there are also plenty of new trails to ride in the area.
“Losing trails is always a disappointment, but the fact that we got all those new trails approved for the West Avon Preserve is also a good trade,” he said.
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