Private land owners play big role in Fraser Valley trails
Mountain Biking with Keith
Winter has returned. Spring snuck in for a bit with the warm weather and as quickly as it arrived it is gone.
Wednesday’s powder day was a very pleasant diversion from work. The mountain was so empty it reminded me of our trails in the summer. While we cut new tracks at the end of the day, the feeling of solitude was much like that on a mountain bike summer’s ride where you see the occasional person on the trail. It was like the mountain was there just for me.
Our trail system is so vast and ever-changing. The last few years have seen great improvements in quality of trails and access. I mentioned in last week’s article about the behind-the-line efforts it takes to plan ahead to improve the system. Those efforts range from creating a vision to executing the same.
One key element that for many has gone unnoticed is working with various land owners to gain critical access from the town of Winter Park and other key entry points. We often mountain bike and don’t have to think of how we begin the ride as it starts from our homes.
The most noticeable of the successes working with landowners are the new trails built by the Town of Winter Park. These trails connect town and the community to the main trail system. Trails such as Sun Dog and Akima’s Way cross land owned by the Denver Water Board. Yankee Doodle and Serendipity use land that is part of the Rendezvous development. Rendezvous also built trails as part of its original development.
The Fraser River Trail and Fraser To Granby Trail could not be built without the cooperation of numerous landowners. Granby Ranch allows access to some of the best trails in the area, all at no fee. Did you know that until Twisted Ankle and Arrow where brought onto the trail system there was no access to Idlewild without crossing private land? (On a side note, this is why the Idlewild area is part of the James Peak Protection Area — in order to preserve it forever). The Idlewild access known as the Red Gate crosses private land that is open due to an agreement and generosity of the landowner.
We rarely know when we are using open trails on private land. Usually it is pretty easy to figure out if you know to look for the U.S. Forest Service signs as they are typically on the boundary where private meets public land. Use of private land can be a delicate issue. The majority of users travel seamlessly on the trail. However it only takes a few to undo the very access we enjoy.
Little things such as venturing off the designated route, dogs chasing wildlife, trash and the like can be a detriment in continuing future use. Accessing the open trails from non-designated points can be one of the most contentious uses. There are times when we as users have to become stewards of the trail. Take some time to pack out trash should you find it. Let others know to stay on the designated trail.
There is a trail system near my house where access is through private land. I often see signs of users venturing off of the designated route in the snow or footprints on the dirt. The well-intended forgotten bag of excrement from dogs tend to multiply as the snow melts. It may not seem like much, but little things such as this can undo the very thing we hold of high value, and that is access and use of our trails.
Our trails are what often keeps us here as the saying is we came for winter yet stayed because of summer. Make an effort to improve the trail every time you go out. Pick up trash, stay on the route, especially through private property and yes this means winter too. Clean up after your pet. If you want to help out or have any issues with trails, contact your local user group or Headwaters Trails Alliance, which is the point group for all users in Grand County — email@example.com or 970-726-1013.
Looking for more information? 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 hiim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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