Join Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado for trail work in Breckenridge July 25-26 | SummitDaily.com
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Join Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado for trail work in Breckenridge July 25-26

Volunteers from Copper Mountain work on the Wheeler Lakes Trail in 2013. Volunteers spend hundreds of hours on trail projects across Summit County, including the upcoming work days on Galena Ditch trail in Breckenridge, hosted by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado July 23-24.
Special to the Daily |

Weber Gulch trail day

What: Two days of trail work on Weber Gulch, a connector in the Breckenridge area, with more than 100 folks from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado

When: Saturday and Sunday, July 25-26 at 8 a.m.

Where: Stephen C. West Ice arena parking lot, 189 Boreas Pass Road in Breckenridge

Cost: Free

Town employees will provide transportation from the ice arena lot to the Sallie Barber trailhead. Volunteers must bring sturdy footwear, work pants, water, snacks and clothing to layer. The town provides gloves and tools, along with breakfast, lunch and a post-work dinner. For more information on Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado projects, see http://www.voc.org/projects or call 303-715-1010.

Summit County trails would be in dire straits without volunteers.

From snowmelt to snowfall, crews of volunteers spend hundreds of hours mending, improving and realigning trails across the county. These crews are a major boon for folks like Tony Overlock, the town of Breckenridge’s lead trail technician. His team of seven full-time employees can hardly keep up with routine maintenance on the town’s 50-plus miles of singletrack, let alone make the sort of upgrades thousands of hikers and mountain bikers relish.

This weekend, locals are invited to join Overlock and more than 100 volunteers with a statewide organization, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, for two days of trail work on the Weber Gulch trail. It’s a short connector between two popular trails in the French Gulch area, Sallie Barber and Nightmare on Mount Baldy, but at 3,600 feet total, it would take a town crew weeks or months to complete the trail.

Introduce a crew of fresh volunteers into the mix, though, and Overlock expects to finish the majority of trail work in a single weekend.

“You get the volunteers here for a weekend and it’s just incredible,” Overlock says. “We have some tough terrain with some steep side slopes, with lots of rough organic material, but with 100 people out there I think we can get the entire stretch.”

The volunteer mentality

Each year, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado hosts three to five work days in the Summit area. Most tend to last only two days, which in turn becomes an appealing weekend getaway for Front Range and regional outdoor junkies who frequent the local trails.

“You really get a greater appreciation for our trail system. You gain respect and admiration for the great trails we have, and the entire time you’re hanging out with great people who are enjoying the same thing you enjoy.”

For the Weber Gulch work, volunteers will meet at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena (found on Boreas Pass Road) around 8 a.m. Town employees will shuttle volunteers to the Sallie Barber Trailhead, then split the entire group into teams of eight to 10 people. Each team is assigned a crew leader and a 100-foot section of trail. All the essentials are provided — shovels, pickaxes, wheelbarrows, even work gloves — and crew leaders give everyone a crash course on trail-building basics.

“There will definitely be a few of those long, rough, hard sections on this trail,” says Overlock, who notes that 100 feet of trail work can last from two hours to two days, depending on the terrain and crew size. “The crazy part is, you might have a crew working on a 100-foot section for two days, then a hiker or biker will roll through in a matter of seconds.”

And trail work isn’t limited to adults. Overlock says elementary-aged children are more than welcome — his crew can find suitable work for anyone of any age. Volunteer projects are key for a sustainable trail system, and the Weber Gulch work will hopefully draw more people to overlooked trails, like the Trail of Tears singletrack.

“This is just another trail to really expand our network,” Overlock says of the Weber Gulch trail. “It might help incorporate a few trails that weren’t getting used as much. It will create some new, fun loops through that area.”

That’s what happened with Aspen Alley, a popular trail off Boreas Pass. The 3-mile rollercoaster through aspen and pine stands was in need of an upgrade, so Breckenridge called on professional trail experts to add berms and other features, reminiscent of a pump track. The trail is now faster, cleaner and more stable than ever before.

But public trail days like Weber Gulch and two upcoming events, one at the Colorado Trail on Aug. 2 and another at Tenderfoot Mountain from Aug. 15-16, are the lifeblood of Summit’s sprawling trail network — and its users.

“The volunteer projects are huge for us,” Overlock says. “The amount of work we can produce over a weekend with 100 people on a trail, it’s motivating, it’s inspirational — it’s what people want to do for the weekend. They just want to hang out with friends and build trails.”


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