Help us by reporting Telluride’s trail conditions and maintenance needs!
It’s that time of the year!
This summer season, the Telluride Mountain Club will be implementing a new trail maintenance program that will help supplement and support the USFS (and other trail landowners) in regard to trail conditions. We’ve hired our first part-time trail maintenance position to assist with Telluride trail needs. This program will work best with on the ground community support, so we are asking for your feedback as you’re out recreating.
Location on the trail: Please identify how many miles in the issue you are reporting is (and from which trailhead). Alternatively, feel free to send us the GPS coordinates. You can figure out coordinates on many cell phone applications.
What’s the problem: Please help by letting us know what the problem is. Are there downed trees? Is there a rock in the middle of the trail? How many trees are there? How big are they? As much information as you can provide is best for us.
Pictures are awesome: If you can snap a picture of the problem, that is icing on the cake.
Once we hear of trail maintenance needs, we’ll dispatch our trail maintenance person or coordinate with the proper landowner and let you know when the issue has been resolved. We need YOU to make this program work best.
We hope you love Telluride’s trails and outdoor areas as much as we do! As our trails experience increased use, it’s more important than ever that we respect the trail, nature, each other and use proper trail etiquette. Thanks for helping to make our backyard an awesome recreation area!
Share the Trails
For many years, the philosophy of trail right of way stemmed from the yield triangle, but as multi-use trail users, sometimes we need to adapt. We respect the need for mountain bikers to have the right of way on a technical ascent or descent, we appreciate when equestrians move off the trail for groups of hikers and we admire when mountain bikers scoot off the trail for runners or hikers and significantly slow down their speed around other user groups.
We believe in situational awareness on the trails. We promote friendly interactions – please and thank you! We support being kind, saying hello and using voice communication. We encourage you to spread the word of socially conscious trail etiquette and practice good use when on Telluride’s trails. Put the pressure on your friends, family and trail buddies to act in accordance so we can all get along. We’re all out there for the same reason so let’s respect each other and share the trails! Here are some tips to get you started.
Historically, hikers and trail runners have had the right of way over mountain bikers but have yielded to equestrians. It’s now much more common for hikers to yield to mountain bikers because of their ease to get off the trail. On multi-use and shared trails, hikers should be aware of their surroundings and expect to encounter mountain bikers at some point. If it’s easy for you to move off the trail to let a mountain biker ride through (and you feel comfortable), we suggest that. Take your time, find good placement for your feet and generally make sure you are not putting yourself in danger. Your safety should come first.
As a mountain biker, it’s likely you have better sight lines than hikers and are almost certainly moving faster. It’s most appropriate and courteous to nicely call out to hikers as you approach them, slow down significantly (really slow down, especially if you need to get off your bike and yield to them) and communicate with who you encounter. Letting them know how many are behind you is helpful information. And, don’t forget a friendly “hello or thank you”.
As a mountain biker, you should never expect a hiker to yield to you. You likely see the hiker long before they know you are near them. Be courteous, communicate, slow way down and thank everyone who moves off the trail for you.
Why Share the Trails?
Telluride’s trail infrastructure is more popular than ever. There are more users on every trail, and we want to mitigate user conflicts before they happen and get out of hand. Sharing the trail is also an effort to keep everyone safe. It’s a simple concept really, share with multiple users, even when they are enjoying the trail in a different way than you.
Responsible Trail Protocols
First and foremost, try not to hike or bike when you know that trails are muddy. Use during muddy times causes trail rutting, widening and maintenance headaches. If you find yourself on a muddy section of trail, make a shift from thinking “I don’t want to get muddy”, to “I want to to preserve this trail”. When you come across a muddy or icy section of a trail, please hike, run or bike right through the middle of the muddy section. Sure, we all want to take the inviting (and dry) side trail, but doing that creates serious erosion that leads to more damage and problems. Please, please stay on the trail.
Don’t cut switchbacks! There is a reason they exist, please don’t make your own trail to save time. Disregarding switchbacks will cause trail erosion and negatively impact vegetation. Stay on the trail.
Respect the Environment
Be a good steward of your environment by staying on the trail, picking up after yourself and keeping singletrack single. Practice leave no trace principles when you are out recreating.
Be A Good Trail Steward
Share the trail! Be nice, say hi. Only utilize open, legal trails. Plan ahead. And, HAVE FUN!
Unauthorized Trail Work
Unauthorized trail work is never acceptable on public or private lands. Unless you are working directly with the land manager or have proper approvals, please leave the trails and their character as you find them. The problem with unauthorized work is that it often changes the trail experience, causes damage to natural resources, creates safety hazards and is against the law. Additionally, unauthorized trail work undermines trust between trail users, land managers and trail advocates which can lead to forced trail closures and strain on future proposed trail projects. Please obtain proper approvals before modifying trails or building your own.
Telluride Trail Etiquette
Share the Trail: Slow down, communicate and be courteous to other trail users. Yield to others!
Be Prepared: Plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Bring water, food, layers, start early and have a plan B.
Leave No Trace: Pack out what you pack in. Leave what you find. Properly dispose of waste.
Stay on the Trail: Keep singletrack single and respect the environment/landscape.
Be A Good Trail Steward: Only use open/legal trails. Encourage your friends and family to be good trail stewards.
Traditional Right of Way & Yield Info
We all love using our regional trails, whether you are a hiker, trail runner or mountain biker. Here is a quick reminder of who has the right of way when out on the trails. And remember, be courteous to your fellow hikers and bikers! Say hello, wave and slow down.
Hikers – Hikers
Hikers going downhill must yield to hikers going uphill (uphill hikers have the right of way).
Bikers – Hikers
Bikers must yield (give right of way) to hikers going in EITHER direction. With this said, sometimes bikers are moving faster than those hiking and it’s easier for the hiker to move out of the way. Bottom line, a biker should never expect a hiker to yield or get out of the way.
Bikers – Bikers
Bikers going downhill must yield to bikers going uphill (bikers going uphill have the right of way).
Equestrians – Hikers/Bikers
Both hikers and bikers must yield to horses (horses have the right of way).
Yielding 101: Stop and move to one side of the trail when yielding. Slow traffic should stay on the right side of the trail so others can pass safely on their left. When in doubt, give the right of way to the hiker headed uphill. Be Nice: If the approaching hiker/biker is struggling more than you, be courteous and let them have the right of way.
Now more than ever we are relying on our public lands to offer us exercise opportunities, mental health and stability as we navigate the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Our community is incredibly lucky to have trails and national forest lands out our backdoor. As spring progresses in Telluride and San Miguel County, we wanted to offer our best trail practices to help you navigate your personal outdoor recreation needs.
We love seeing people out and about but want to remind everyone that now is not the time to get rowdy or extreme. Now isn’t the time to head to popular destination trailheads. Now is the time to explore the obscure, tiny thing close to home… and to be stoked you got out. We hope you stay safe and healthy friends!
Recreate by yourself or with people in your household
Limit contact and activities with individuals outside of your household
Don’t carpool or choose options that require a shuttle
Avoid crowds and busy trails
If you get to a recreation spot, trailhead or trail and it appears to be crowded, try going somewhere else
Consider avoiding popular trails at busy times of the day
Get creative to pick roads and trails that aren’t frequently used
Exercise close to home
Do not recreate in groups
Practice ‘Social Distancing’ guidelines on trails, the ski resort and in the backcountry
Stay at least 6 feet apart from other people
Wash and sanitize your hands frequently
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth, mask or other means when you are around others
Share the trail
Be cognizant and considerate of others
Step off the trail to create a 6-foot buffer when people need to pass
Follow proper trail etiquette
Do not ride, run or hike on muddy trails, it causes rutting, widening and maintenance issues
Update: As of fall 2019, the Magic Meadows Trail is completed.
The Magic Meadows Trail replaced sections of the previous “Alta Lakes Trail” that connects Prospect Trail to Sunshine Trail. The following trail recap provides information on this new trail build. Thank you to everyone who donated their time to help complete construction of this new inventory trail.
Magic Meadows Trail
In the fall of 2018, construction began on the new Magic Meadows Trail in the Alta Lakes area. The new trail replaced the previous Alta Lakes Trail that had been in existence which crossed private land (which happened during the Wilson Peak land exchange). The new Magic Meadows Trail was built and funded by the United States Forest Service (USFS), Norwood Ranger District and Colorado Parks and Wildlife with assistance from the USFS Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Crew and Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC). In addition, Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) and San Miguel Bike Alliance (SMBA) hosted public trail work days to encourage local and regional participation in the build of the new trail. Trail work began on September 1, 2018 and was finished in the fall of 2019.
The Magic Meadows Trail links the Prospect Trail from the Telluride Ski Resort to the Sunshine Trail (T-35) along Highway 145. The entire length of the trail is around 6 miles from trailhead to trailhead. The segments of new trail have all been built on USFS land making the trail a legal, inventory trail. This trail accommodates mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, and equestrians. It is closed to motorized vehicles.
The purpose of this new trail build and reroute is to move the existing trail onto USFS land and not cross private property. The original Alta Lakes Trail was a user-created trail, dating back to equestrian use when the Skyline Guest Ranch was operational. The trail was on a patchwork of public and private lands. The new Magic Meadows trail will use some existing portions of the original Alta Lakes Trail and will have new routes to avoid private property.
This trail is being built to accommodate multi-use but is being designed with mountain biking at the forefront of use. This means that special consideration is being given to trail grade, switchback radius and will feature mountain bike-specific features.
The current user group that dominates use in this area is mountain bikers. The trail often sees use from hikers and trail runners. Equestrian use is limited and mostly during the fall hunting months. This trail will accommodate intermediate through advanced recreators.
The Magic Meadows trail will be a fundamental connector trail in the Telluride region and will see quite a bit of use.
The new Magic Meadows Trail is shown on the map below. The yellow highlighted lines show the existing portions of the Alta Lakes Trail that will be used for the new trail alignment. The pink highlighted lines show the new, rerouted sections that will be built in the fall of 2018. The purple highlighted lines depict existing USFS trails segments. The map also shows sections of trail that will be reclaimed and closed. The map also shows property ownership.
When completed, the entire length of the Magic Meadows Trail will be approximately 6 miles. The sections of trail that will require a complete rebuild will be around 3.2 miles.
Trail Design & Construction
The Norwood Ranger District hired Mountain Sage Trails, LLC to aid in the layout and design of the new trail. The USFS Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Crew will be constructing the trail with help from SCC.
Both the Telluride Mountain Club and San Miguel Bike Alliance will be assisting with public trail work days starting on Saturday, September 8th and going through the completion of the trail build.
Maintenance & Stewardship
Once completed, the Magic Meadows Trail will be added to the USFS trail inventory. This means that they will be in charge of the trail and will maintain the trail in the future. Telluride Mountain Club anticipates helping with trail maintenance through public trail work days as much or as little as needed. The Telluride Mountain Club is currently in communication with the USFS Norwood District office to adopt this trail.
The highly anticipated Magic Meadows Trail will begin construction on September 1, 2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of that month. The new trail will be built entirely on USFS land using existing sections of the Alta Lakes Trail combined with new trail segments. Though the trail will be enjoyed by trail runners, hikers and equestrians, it is being built with mountain bikers in mind.
The Telluride Mountain Club encourages your participation in public trail work days on the Magic Meadows Trail in September 2018.
San Juan National Forest Closure and Impacts to the GMUG
Norwood, Colorado, June 13, 2018 – With the implementation of a Stage 3 Fire Closure for the San Juan National Forest (SJNF) several border areas of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests will be affected. Most notably the southern half of the Lizard Head Wilderness will be closed to all entry due to its location on the SJNF. Areas affected by this closure include: Mount Wilson, El Diente, and Navajo Basin. The Uncompahgre National Forest (northern section) of the Lizard Head Wilderness remains open including the following areas:
Wilson Peak via the Rock of Ages Trail (NFST 429)
Bike Basin via either the Wilson Mesa Trailhead (NFST 623) or the Lizard Head Trail (NFST 505)
Woods Lake Trail (NFST 406)
Elk Creek Trail (NFST 407)
Lone Cone Trail (NFST 426)
Wilson Meadows Trail (NFST 512)
Lizard Head Trail (NFST 505) – first 3 miles to Black Face Ridge
Due to area closures and upcoming seasonal events the following areas are expected to experience higher than normal volumes of visitors:
Alta Lakes Dispersed Camping Area
Gold King Basin
Wild Boy Lake
Alta Road (NFSR 632)
Hope Lake Road (NFSR 627)
Lizard Head Pass Dispersed Camping Area
Priest Lake Dispersed Camping Area
Recommended alternatives to the aforementioned areas include:
Woods Lake Campground
Beaver Park Dispersed Camping Area
Grand Mesa National Forest
When recreating in the southern Uncompahgre National Forest, please carefully consult with a map to ensure that you do not inadvertently cross in to the SJNF closure area.
The Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests remain under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. The Grand Mesa National Forest is not under fire restrictions. GMUG Fire Officials utilize several criteria to determine the Fire Restriction level and reevaluate conditions daily. Visitors to the National Forests are encouraged to call local offices ahead of time to check on current fire conditions and restrictions.
“There are many factors that we consistently assess when making fire restriction decisions, including both environmental and human factors, we are constantly monitoring conditions and collaborating with our cooperators to assess the need to make changes to our restrictions” said CorDell Taylor, GMUG Fire Management Officer “We have not seen an increase in the number of fire starts, this means people are being very careful and doing their part in wildfire prevention”
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests manage approximately 3 million acres of land in Southwest Colorado within Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Saguache, San Juan and San Miguel counties.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests 2250 South Main Street
Delta, CO 81416-2485
Contact(s): Matt Zumstein, Norwood District Ranger, 970-327-4261 Kathy Peckham, Norwood Recreation Staff, 970-327-4261 Kim Phillips, Public Affairs Officer, 970-589-0842
Dylan Peters, Public Affairs Specialist, 970-462-2969
Yep, spring has arrived. Here are some updates and reminders in regards to our regional trails.
Please adhere to season trail closures, they are closed for a reason.
Please avoid utilizing trails this spring when they are wet and muddy. This creates permanent damage that is costly to fix. The USFS would rather put money towards new trail, not fixing old ones!
Personal Trail Work:
Please do not perform your own personal trail work to open your favorite trail this spring. If you are interested in helping the USFS open trails faster, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you do trail work legally and professionally.
If you are a member of TMtC or SMBA, you can work on trails via our Voluntary Service Agreements with the USFS, we just need to give you national trail standards so your personal contributions are effective and long-term. We also need to know what you are working on and your progress, so we don’t send others out to do the same work.
We will notify the public of trail openings as we are let aware this spring.
Over the course of the past year, many local entities and stakeholders have attended meetings put on by the USFS to evaluate the current Alta Lakes Management Plan and put pieces in place to create a new Alta Lakes Recreation Area Master Plan. At this point, the USFS is accepting comments on this plan (until Friday, May 4). The plan will then be revised and start to go through the NEPA process.
Telluride Mountain Club will be providing comments, but please feel free to submit your own. You may also email us your comments (to email@example.com) and we can include them in our feedback. Telluride Mountain Club will be addressing trails, trail connectivity to the various lakes and access around the lakes.
Comments will be accepted until Friday, May 16, 2018.
Written comments must be submitted via mail to: Kathy Peckham, Project Leader, P.O. Box 388, Norwood, CO 81423
In person, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays, Kathy Peckham, Project Leader, 1150 Forest Street, Norwood, CO 81423
Contact(s): Matt Zumstein, District Ranger (970) 327-4261; Kathy Peckham, Recreation Staff (970) 327-4261
Norwood Ranger District Seeks Comments on Alta Lakes Plan
Norwood, Colorado, April 06, 2018 – The Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests’ Norwood Ranger District is seeking public comment on the proposed Alta Lakes Recreation Area Master Plan. This plan is intended to provide guidance for the development of summer recreation in the Alta Lakes area for the next 5 to 10 years.
The Alta Lakes Recreation Area is located 12 miles south of Telluride, Colorado. The proposed Master Plan’s long-term vision is to improve recreation management at Lower Alta Lake, Upper Alta Lake, Wild Boy Lake and Gold King Basin. The majority of the proposed improvements would occur at Lower Alta Lake including the construction of two dispersed camping loops, restrooms, a day use parking area, trails and plans for riparian habitat restoration.
In the Spring of 2017, the Forest Service initiated discussions with local stakeholders to address resource impacts resulting from the increasing recreation use at Alta Lakes. The draft Master Plan is the result of these stakeholder meetings, coupled with Forest Service recommendations.
Did we capture what’s going well and what’s not going well on the GMUG, or are we missing any critical pieces?
And most importantly, does the potential need for change reflect the major issues that we should concentrate on in plan revision?
The USFS has also put together a guide on how to review these documents, you can find it here. Page 3 of this guide reviews the format of each document so you can easily navigate to the section you are interested in reading more about. Chapter 5 reviews the potential need for change and is an important chapter because it outlines the needs for change that will guide the upcoming plan revision phase.
There are many reports on various topics, but here we look at the Recreation Report in greater detail. For reference, you can view the entire report here. Below are a few excerpts from the plan. Basically, the USFS has identified that trails in the GMUG do not meet user needs, but that there is a lack of funding to support non-motorized trails and trail maintenance. Additionally, the USFS has identified that there are user-created trails that are not up to their trail standards. They outline a few approaches to addressing these types of trails. Last, the USFS acknowledges that the public wants more non-motorized trails and motorized trails, yet these user groups don’t necessarily want the same trail systems. There are more topics covered in the entire Recreation Report, these are just a few that you might be interested in. If you want to comment, there is more info below. This is the time to be proactive!
“Some current trail designs do not meet user needs, are creating erosion issues and causing environmental damage. To remain safe, sustainable and usable and to minimize environmental effects, trails need regular maintenance. With 2,641 miles of standard trails (ground-based), the GMUG has the most expansive trail system in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service. Recent budgets, as described above, along with increased use, have resulted in a backlog of trail maintenance. Alternative sources of funding and labor are being used to complete maintenance activities. Significant funding for motorized trail maintenance comes from the State OHV fee program and partners. Non-motorized trails in particular need increased attention and maintenance. Relatively little funding is available from outside sources for non-motorized trails, although partnerships with hiking and equestrian groups help to clear and maintain trails. Mountain bike groups are very active with trail clearing and maintenance.
While we are working to achieve trail maintenance through alternative means, trails are not receiving the maintenance needed to provide a high quality facility and experience. The frequency of trail maintenance is rarely annual and may stretch as high as 10 or more years on lesser used trails. No one enjoys having a difficult time finding a trail or having to constantly watch where you step. Trail condition is adversely affecting the quality of the recreation experience on many trails.”
“A source of incompatibility that the GMUG manages is user-created trails. Most unauthorized user-created trails result from bicycle users and OHV users. Other users such as hikers and horseback riders create their own routes too….
These trails are susceptible to erosion, may cause soil and water damage, can affect wildlife habitat and cause conflict among user groups due to changed settings. Unauthorized trails generally take the easiest route from one point to another and typically fail to meet Forest Service trail design and construction standards. Grades are often too steep and alignments do not meet design standards for safety and resource protection.
The Forest can take a number of approaches when addressing unauthorized trails, from improving and adopting them as official Forest Service trails to removal of the unauthorized routes. Perhaps most importantly, addressing user-created routes depletes funding and staff capacity to maintain the authorized facilities, let alone to plan and design new trails and facilities.”
Motorized and Non-Motorized Recreation
“Increased public interest in having more opportunities for motorized and non-motorized recreation has fueled disagreements over the optimum allocation or extent of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities on the GMUG. In recent years demand for new or expanded motorized trail systems has grown on the Uncompahgre Plateau, in the Gunnison and Crested Butte areas, and on the Grand Mesa. The Forest has also received proposals for new mechanized trail systems near Crested Butte and the San Juan Mountains.
Both motorized and non-motorized advocates want more routes and areas allocated to their use. Adding to the conflict are economic and environmental considerations, with some asserting that restrictions on motorized recreation harm local industries that serve vehicle users. Others argue that growth in motorized recreation damages valuable natural resources that also draw visitors to the forest and support gateway communities. Balancing the mix of motorized and non-motorized opportunities and resolving the conflicts among users will continue to be an ongoing challenge in coming years.”
You can submit your comments through the USFS online comment tool, through email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or through post to 2250 South Main St., Delta, CO 81416.
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are currently working on a forest plan revision and are seeking your input on the direction to take our national forests for the next 30 years. Currently, the USFS is sifting through information to get a picture of current conditions and trends on the Forests. (more…)