Telluride Mountain Club, United States Forest Service, and Mountain Sage Trails Collaborate on the West End of Deep Creek Reroute
September 20, 2023 Update
We’ve made significant strides in the past month on the Deep Creek reroute project. The new trail alignment now connects with the existing trail and is open to the public. The new 1.7-mile stretch prioritizes environmental sustainability and recreational enjoyment. While we’re wrapping up some hand work and minor maintenance along the remaining trail sections, we’re aiming to complete the entire project by month-end.
Project management has been led by TMtC’s Trails Director Jordan Carr (also of Mountain Sage Trails). Machine work has been expertly handled by Shawn Gregory of Big Loop Trails, and Southwest Conservation Corps has assisted with the finishing touches. We’re grateful for the invaluable oversight from the USFS. Funding for this project is provided by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) through the National Forest Foundation, who conducted an onsite visit last week.
August 16, 2023 Press Release
The Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) is excited to announce that the reroute project on the west end of Deep Creek Trail is underway. This project was initially proposed by TMtC in 2017 and submitted to the United States Forest Service (USFS) Norwood District Office as part of a larger Trail Proposal. The USFS identified this individual proposal as an ideal project to highlight and move forward.
TMtC’s Trails Director, Jordan Carr, was able to flag possible alignments in 2021 and refine them at the direction of the USFS in 2022. The approved, agreed upon alignment then needed to go through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis, like all new trail projects on public lands. The analysis, completed by USFS specialists, kicked off in the late fall of 2022 and the decision memo was signed this week to move construction of the project forward.
The reroute is located on the west end of Deep Creek, where the current trail runs up the steep, badly rutted fall line along the creek. The new alignment is approximately 1.7 miles in length. It reduces grades and will extend this section of trail. The project will start with corridor clearing this week and progress to construction in late August and September. The former/current trail alignment will be rehabilitated and will no longer be accessible once the new, completed trail is in use. TMtC estimates the new trail will be completed sometime in October.
The purpose of the reroute is to improve overall trail sustainability which includes reducing erosion, enhancing water drainage, improving sightlines for public safety, and creating a better overall user experience. The new alignment will reduce future maintenance costs and trail crew efforts. In addition to the reroute, grade reversals will be added to the historic road cut section that parallels Mill Creek above the water treatment plant to improve sustainability and water drainage. Other sections of Deep Creek Trail will see some minor maintenance efforts to improve drainage and trail safety, especially where the trail is eroding.
Mountain Sage Trails, owned by TMtC’s Trails Director Jordan Carr, will be managing the project with USFS oversight. The project is being funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and will run through the National Forest Foundation.
“As Telluride’s trails see increased and more frequent use, trail sustainability projects like this become more important”, says John Hidy, Norwood Ranger District Trails Program Manager. “The new alignment and design will reduce resource damage, improve public safety, and increase capacity for enjoyment by all user groups.”
“The reroute will also improve the recreation experience to access Deep Creek Trail”, says Jordan Carr, TMtC Trails Director. “Reducing the trail grade and creating a more environmentally friendly alignment benefits both the user and the future sustainability of the trail.”
“This project has been a great collaboration between TMtC, the USFS, and Mountain Sage Trails,” says Heidi Lauterbach, TMtC Director. “It’s been on the radar for several years and we are excited to finally be underway.”
About Telluride Mountain Club
Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for safe, accessible, enjoyable, and respectful opportunities for human-powered recreational activities in the Telluride region, through education, awareness and collaboration.
August 18, 2023
Work started yesterday on the grade reversals to the historic road cut section above the water treatment plant (Mill Creek). These improvements will help with water drainage and overall trail sustainability well into the future.
Modernizing some of the steep, unsustainable sections of trail is one way we can minimize environmental impacts (reducing sediment loss through erosion and trail widening). Additionally, the new route will help keep maintenance costs and efforts lower in the future.