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Sanders: Removing trails part of making a better system

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking With Keith
Keith Sanders
Staff Photo |

We’ve all been enjoying the new trails that have been built over the last few years. It’s been great to have some fun new singletrack added to the trail system.

As much as we would all would love to have an unlimited amount of trails, the reality of managing the trail system and the land where it resides simply does not allow that to happen. Our trail system is one that must meet not only the desired experiences of the users but more importantly must also balance U.S. Forest Service regulations that are designed to protect the environment. This determines the location of trails and also the density of the trail system.

One thing that will happen to balance the density of the trail system is that when new trails are added, often trails in that same geographic area must be removed from the trail system. This is due to trying to balance ecological needs that are often directly related to trail density. For many of us this will be a shock and a bit hard to swallow, but in order to move forward in creating a better trail system this is part of the balancing process.

Much of the decommissioning that has been done has gone somewhat unnoticed. When the Arrow Trail was rerouted the original trail was blocked off so that it could revegetate. The same thing happened when WTB was rerouted and lengthened. Twisted Ankle was brought onto the trail system by rerouting and rebuilding a heavily eroded user-created trail and at that time the old trail was decommissioned as part of the balancing process.

“One thing that will happen to balance the density of the trail system is that when new trails are added, often trails in that same geographic area must be removed from the trail system. … For many of us this will be a shock and a bit hard to swallow, but in order to move forward in creating a better trail system this is part of the balancing process.”

Next weekend some user created trails in the D4 area will be decommissioned. This will be the most controversial decommissioning project to date. That is mainly due to the proximity of the trails as they are very near the town of Winter Park and offer a unique trail experience. This is part of the process that allowed user created trails in the Leap Frog area to be improved and brought onto the official trail system. The remaining user-created trails in that area will be decommissioned.

Grand Mountain Bike Alliance agrees that this needs to be done with one main exception. GMBA does support the decommissioning in the geographic area bordered by Forest Service Road 159, Vasquez Road, D4 and WTB. GMBA does not agree with the currently planned decommissioning of the trail known as Lower Leap Frog, which is the social trail that connects D4 to D3. The main reason for that is that GMBA would like to see the trail known as Lower Leap Frog added to the trail system.

Lower Leap Frog offers a unique experience that complements the new trail additions of this summer in that same area. That experience is one that offers technical challenges that are not found elsewhere in our expansive trail network. In order to balance trail density GMBA has proposed that D3 be decommissioned and removed from the trail system as D3 offers an experience that is duplicated on the adjacent trails D4, WTB and Sunset Pink.

This will also reduce the trail density as the proposed addition of Lower Leap Frog is shorter than the section of D3 that is being proposed to be decommissioned. As of the time of writing this article, I have not heard back from the Forest Service on the status of the Lower Leap Frog trail. It is my speculation that the agency is in the process of analyzing the final decommissioning process for that area.

On behalf of GMBA, the Forest Service and Headwaters Trails Alliance, I would like to ask everyone to respect the decommissioning project by not reopening trails after the project is completed. If you can help educate those who may not be aware of the project that would be appreciated by all involved. Many groups such as Headwaters Trails Alliance, Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, the Forest Service, Town of Winter Park, as well as others are working very hard to improve the trail system with very limited resources. If trails are reopened then resources that could be used to improve the trail system will have to be diverted to address reopening of decommissioned trails.

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 a ladies only ride? Meet up with some of the local gals every Wednesday. For more info check out their Facebook page Grand County Womens’ Bikers. https://www.facebook.com/GCWomensMtnBikers?fref=nf&pnref=story

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 me at keith@winterparkskirental.com.


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