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Ride dirt, not mud

Locations: News Published

As temperatures increase with the approach of spring, so does the amount of mud on our local trails. Unlike trails in some other parts of the country, where soils are loamy and use of trails during wet conditions isn’t a problem, many trails in the Roaring Fork River Valley have high clay content. A muddy footprint or bike track is likely to dry and persist late into the season.
Or worse, according to Red Hill Council President Davis Farrar, hikers and bikers try to avoid the mud, widening single-track and causing maintenance issues. Farrar has been involved in the Red Hill trail system since the ‘90s, and he has seen trail use increase significantly over the years. Red Hill, which is a Special Recreation Management Area of the Bureau of Land Management, currently sees more than 65,000 uses each year. The Red Hill Council had been concerned about rapid growth in trail use, but “when Prince Creek opened up and with all the stuff that Pitkin County Open Space has done – Sky Mountain Park and all that stuff – the use has now been spread from Red Hill.” Farrar continued, “Once the other trail systems open up, then that use gets spread and the impact is less.” While the front side of Red Hill is open year-round, other regional trail systems open for the season in April and May.
Local businesses, agencies and nonprofits work each year to maintain the community’s trails. Local mountain biker and co-owner of Aloha Mountain Cyclery, Darren Broome, is a vocal advocate for the mountain biking community to respect trails. “We want people to know, hey, we ride dirt not mud. If you see mud, please turn around and don’t ride through it or run through it or hike through it. Just give it a little time and maybe hit the desert or go for a run on a bike path or something of that nature. Just give our trails time to set up and dry.” Broome’s shop also organizes volunteer trail maintenance days, usually on the Prince Creek trail system. While no work dates are set yet for this year, they post about volunteer opportunities as well as trail conditions on their website.
Another local entity educating around responsible trail use is the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA). “Pick your time and place wisely. If it is muddy and if you’re leaving a track, it’s time to turn around.” That’s according to RFMBA’s Executive Director, Mike Pritchard. He continued, “As we head into March and early April it’s the time to leave our local trails alone if they’re muddy and take a drive towards Fruita – get out to the dry trails further west in the desert.” In addition to promoting messages like, “Ride dirt, not mud,” and “keep the single-track single,” RFMBA has a “trail agent” program which trains volunteers to do proper maintenance on their own time. RFMBA also collaborates on group trail maintenance events.
Another nonprofit in the local trails arena is Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV), which organizes trail work days throughout the valley. RFOV is set to publish their trail work calendar in April and has trail-building scheduled to connect Red Hill and Sutey Ranch starting in May. This spring, RFOV is planning to install QR-code enabled trailhead signs at Red Hill, the Lorax, and Prince Creek, so that recreationists can easily share trail notes to a centralized location.
With all these local groups organizing community events, there is no shortage of ways to get involved, or groups to donate to in support of local trails. Again, Farrar. “It would be great if people would sign up, would feel that they have an obligation to get out there and help maintain those trails and keep them in good shape, because if they are not cared for they fall apart.”
Farrar’s final piece of advice was, “Please don’t use the trails when they’re muddy. Use them in the morning when they’re frozen.” In addition to the trail conditions posted on the Aloha Mountain Cyclery website, Facebook users can visit the Roaring Fork Trail Conditions group, where members can crowd-source trail information from other outdoor enthusiasts.

Tags: #Aloha Mountain Cyclery #Red Hill #Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers