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New connections improve Winter Park trails

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith
Keith Sanders
Staff Photo |

Earlier this week I thought I would take my singlespeed out for a bit of pain and suffering. Those of you who have ridden a singlespeed know what I mean.

If you haven’t ridden a singlespeed, imagine a bike with one gear (usually it is the wrong one) during your next ride. As I was climbing last year’s singletrack reroute of the top of Crosstrails in Idlewild I came across some singletrack so fresh that it still had the “new trail smell.”

The Town of Winter Park has built a new trail to connect the top of Crosstrails to the Arrow trail just before the Arrow trail enters the woods at the Forest Service boundary when riding it downhill. This is a great trail addition as it allows users to seamlessly tie Crosstrails and Arrow together with some pretty high quality trails. This will give you the option of mixing up your rides a bit. You can add this to a shorter ride when time is at a premium or alter your normal ride route. Those who are doing a longer ride and want to drop back into town can take this as an alternative route to finish up the ride.

Just on the other side of town the trail reroutes in the D4/Leap Frog area are moving along well. I rode them a couple of weeks ago and then again on Wednesday. There has been quite a bit done in the last two weeks. New fun sustainable trail connects to the original upper part of Leap Frog and meanders through the area that contained the social trail Ho Chi Minh.

These new trails are fun to ride and give you the opportunity to try your skills as many rocks and natural features are utilized to create additional challenges. The features and rocks will test your skills both riding up the trail or down. As I stood on one feature I realized that it had a ramp built in for those who want to huck themselves to infinity and beyond. Not to worry, each obstacle has a ride around option so that those who don’t want or have the technical skills can enjoy the new trails as well.

These new trails are great examples of how the trail system can be improved on a permanent basis by taking the time to go through the process to create long term official trails. This started from the idea of how can trails best meet the needs of users as users were looking for better trail experiences.

A few years ago the Forest Service was looking at the Leland Creek Area (D4ish, WTB, Sunset Pink) for a fuels reduction project (remove dead trees for fire mitigation). The agency came to the community with the idea of looking at trails in that area and defining a sub-trail system that would be permanent, fun to use, meet Forest Service criteria (not just trail design but wildlife, biology, history etc.) and integrate to the larger trail vision that creates a better trail system overall. Local trail groups and users gave input on the trail location and experience which then set forth the environmental studies and ultimately the trail construction.

One thing I find as exciting is that land managers in the Town of Winter Park and the Forest Service are working with trails groups such as Grand Mountain Bike Alliance and Headwaters Trails Alliance to create better trails. This is evident in the trail construction in the Leland Creek area. In just the last few years we have seen trails such as Leap Frog integrated into the trail system. Reroutes of WTB make for a far better trail for use and maintenance. New trails of Sun Dog and Akimas Way connect the Town of Winter Park to the trail system.

On the east side of the highway near Idlewild and town Yankee Doodle and the Meadow trail connect town to the Idlewild trail system and beyond. Twisted Ankle and Arrow are now permanent trails. Crosstrails now connects to Arrow. The top of Crosstrails has been taken off of a road and replaced with singletrack.

Many changes are yet to come. The long term is that the trail system will be far better. People are working together to create long term solutions with tangible results.

There has been a lot of press about the Headwaters Trails Alliance Master Trails Plan Draft over the last two weeks. Today, Aug. 7,is the last day for public comments at http://www.headwaterstrails.org. I hope you took the time to read the plan and make comments as this plan will greatly influence the future of our trails. Grand Mountain Bike Alliance has been heavily involved since 2011 in pushing for the completion of this plan. We are glad to see this stage of the process coming to an end so that we can move on to the next steps which should result in more improvements to the trail system.

Group ride

Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday at 6 p.m. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.

Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker. Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at keith@winterparkskirental.com.


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