It’s hard to imagine 1,000 miles of trails, but that’s what Grand County holds within its borders. No wonder we get so many hikers, bikers and nature lovers visiting Grand County every day.
I’ve done my share of biking, hiking and other activities on the trails around Winter Park and Fraser and wondered who and how the trails are maintained. Some trails are banked or otherwise well maintained to help riders negotiate difficult turns. Muddy sections of trails have been lined with turnpike trees to make them easier to navigate. Beautiful, well-traveled trails are all easy to access and ride: Flume trail around St. Louis creek; Yankee Doodle; Fraser River trail; Fraser to Granby trail and so many more.
My question is how these trails are maintained and improved? To find the answer I met with Erica Bean, Volunteer and Events Coordinator at Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA). The first thing I learned was that Grand County is unique because there is no County department to manage and fund trail maintenance (like Summit and other surrounding counties). HTA, a Grand County 501c3 non-profit, does much of the heavy work while working closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Erica and her army of volunteers work with the BLM and USFS to tirelessly maintain about 200 miles of these trails. And all to the benefit of the trail walkers and bikers.
Last week I rode the St. Louis Creek trails, ready to turn on FS 159 to start the Flume trail. I ran into Erica and about 15 volunteers. Erica was training them on trail maintenance: bridging a particularly muddy part of the trail; cutting downed trees that blocked the trail; and making general improvements to make the trail safer and more enjoyable.
HTA also has some good programs to support a specific trail. One’s called Adopt-a-Trail and for $250 a year, or 1 day of working the trail, you can receive a sign with your name and the acknowledgement that you supported this incredible effort to keep the Grand County trails the best in Colorado. My wife and I are picking one trail to “Adopt” next week.
Many of these Grand County trails also have an interesting history, like the Flume trail that was named after an old logging flume that runs parallel to the trail. You can even see parts of the old flume on your ride. If you’re interested in Grand County and western history, stop by the HTA office in Fraser. It’s an old log cabin with lots of maps to view. And right outside of the office are spectacular life-sized sculptured figures and descriptions of western life. It’s called the Western Heritage Collection and is well-worth a few minutes of your time.
If you want to help HTA maintain our hundreds of miles of trails, contact them at the below website. Volunteer, donate or just stop by. It’s worth the time and effort.
http://headwaterstrails.org/ Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org