All posts by rfmba

2020 Trails Accomplishments & Giving Thanks!

Amidst challenging circumstances, we’ve had another exceptional year for trails and mountain biking in the Roaring Fork Valley! Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our volunteers, and all of our Annual Membersindividual Donors, Business Partners, and granting Foundations.

During 2020, our advocacy, design, and coordination efforts + our highly valued public land manager partnerships resulted in many trail projects including:

Volunteers building the top of the Undie Trail, Capitol Peak in the distance.

The Undie Trail; this new hand-built (and hand-carved, with in-sloped berms, doubles, and cross-overs!) 6 mile long trail connects the Prince Creek area to the immense views at the very top of the BLM’s Crown SRMA area and sets the stage for future trails that complement climbing and descending from both sides of the mountain.

Faye’s Fury in the distance, seen from Sallee Key.

New Castle Trails’ eastern expansion of the BLM trail system, to be named the Highlands Area includes ~6 miles of new trails, with a couple of more miles to be completed next season. Including directional climbing and descending routes in complicated and beautiful terrain, the mix of hand-built technical and machine carved flow trails will keep locals smiling and visitors venturing out to find Faye’s Fury, Tuck and Roll, Salle Key, Dante’s Peak, and Uncle Joey’s.

Mesa climb below Rifle Arch and the Grand Hogback

Our RAMBO friends in Rifle broke ground on the new Grand Hogback Trails at the Rifle Arch. With 4+ miles constructed this fall, and funding coming together for the additional 15 miles of approved trails, this bike-optimized trail network will soon be on the list for all RF riders to explore, especially during the spring and fall seasons.

August 2020, Snowmass Enduro Race Series, Matt Power Photography

Snowmass Bike Park continued its plan to offer the best possible gravity scene on the western slope, with new green, blue, and black difficulty level trails that make it a real challenge to ride the full system in one go… the result: time to get a season pass and plan to visit all season long!

In addition to seeing new trails built, RFMBA has continued to work on planning future trails where most appropriate, investing in design and study of the BLM’s Crown, the future access trail for Sutey Ranch to connect to the backside of Red Hill, detailed planning for the Lookout Mt. Area east of Glenwood Springs, all this while keeping more trail opportunities on our radar for the Aspen and New Castle areas.

2020 Accomplishments: Trail Crew, Trail Agents, Volunteers, and Youth Corps crews

RFMBA’s programs focused on maintaining, sustaining, and improving the existing trail network in the Roaring Fork Valley totaled over 10,148 hours in 2020.

Chad, Sophia, & Spencer, working a big day on ridge crux section of the Arbaney-Kittle Trail.

1. RFMBA’s Seasonal Trail Crew Program hires, trains and manages seasonal staff to perform basic trail maintenance, improve trails and trailheads, and in limited cases, assist with new trail build projects. The crew’s program of work focuses broadly on high-use front country trails and remote backcountry trails open to mountain bikes. During 2020, the crew size ranged from 2 to 5 members from May through October. Huge thanks and appreciation for epic efforts out on our trails goes to our second year crew leader Chad Smith, returning crew members Spencer Ellsperman and Sam Blakeslee, as well as new crew members Sophia Jacober and Jack Boyd! Seasonal Trail Crew Program, total hours: 3,401 hours

2. RFMBA’s Trail Agent Program trains and empowers volunteers to perform basic trail maintenance on their own time, with tasks and time reported through our online reporting systems. The training program was developed as part of Volunteer Outdoor Colorado’s Outdoor Stewardship Institute, and their Guide to Independent Stewardship for Trails. RFMBA intends to direct additional resources towards the program in coming years, increasing training opportunities and overall volunteer efforts dedicated to maintaining existing trails.

Trail Agent Program, total hours reported through Unself, via email, and more recently via Trailforks.com: 508 hours. Trails maintained include 263 hours on BLM trails & 223 hours on WRNF trails.

Volunteers on the upper Undie Trail, late July 2020.

3. RFMBA schedules, promotes, and manages public volunteer projects for approved trail construction projects, open space clean-up efforts, and bike park maintenance projects. Additionally, RFMBA is pleased to partner with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers throughout the summer season by helping to select and promote public projects that improve trails open to bikes. In addition, we typically manage our Volunteer Incentive Bike Giveaway Program that awards a lucky volunteer with a new full suspension mountain bike… but this program was on a hiatus during 2020. The following projects were promoted and coordinated by RFMBA & New Castle Trails, totaling 2,327 volunteer hours:

Undie trail build, BLM Crown SRMA: 1,273 volunteer hours.
New Castle 2020 Trails Projects, BLM New Castle ERMA: 1,030 hours
VIX Bike Park, Skill Loop Maintenance, Town of New Castle: 24 hours

4. RFMBA and New Castle Trails engaged with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crews for 3,680 hours of time dedicated to BLM trail construction projects, as follows.

During summer 2020, RFMBA secured funding to contract and manage 5 weeks of Rocky Mt. Youth Corp (RMYC) crews to construct the Undie Trail on the BLM’s Crown SRMA. Each week a crew of 10 worked 40 hours each, resulting in 400 hours per week for the 5 weeks, 2,000 hours in total. In addition, RMYC directed a crew of ~20 members towards the project for 3 days for training purposes, for an additional 480 hours. RFMBA staff and volunteers worked with RMYC to achieve efficient and high quality results. This resulted in 2,480 total hours for the project.

Also during summer 2020, RFMBA’s New Castle Trails Committee secured in-kind support from Garfield County for 3 weeks of Rocky Mt. Youth Corp (RMYC) crews to construct hand built trails on the BLM’s New Castle ERMA. Each week a crew of 10 worked 40 hours each, resulting in 400 hours per week for the 3 weeks, 1,200 hours in total. This work was overseen and led by a professional trail contractor hired to ensure high quality results. 1,200 total hours for this project.

All of these 2020 efforts were managed and promoted, with funding secured by RFMBA’s volunteer board members, full time Executive Director, and part time Outreach Coordinator.

 As we continue working on 2021+ trail programs & initiatives, we encourage you to consider how you can contribute your time and support towards our efforts to create and sustain the best possible mountain bike trail system and experiences in our region!

Hay Park Area & Mountain Bike Trail Advocacy

RFMBA has focused on the Hay Park area over the past 12 years due to the tremendous beauty of the area, the quality of the riding for mountain bikers, and the challenges that come along with managing this particular area of public land.

The Dinkle Lake / Thomas Lakes Trailhead provides access to not only the Hay Park Trail, but also to the Maroon Bells / Snowmass Wilderness area. This popular trailhead acts as a gateway for bike riders, hikers, runners, and equestrians. In additio,n ranchers graze cattle under special use permits in the area, and hunters visit this zone each fall. Trail users visiting Hay Park can expect to find healthy stands of mature dark timber, huge groves of aspen trees, a lush meadow with views of Capitol Peak (one of Colorado’s most jagged and formidable 14er’s) and of course hikers and backcountry skiers can tackle the high alpine environment of the Roaring Fork Valley’s most omni-present high point, Mount Sopris.

We’ve been aware of the many routes in this area of the White River National Forest since our organization’s earliest days. RFMBA submitted comments during the WRNF’s Travel Management Plan process (in 2009, and in 2011) advocating that many of the existing routes should remain open to bikes.

Unfortunately, our argument that these routes were historic, had been ridden by area mountain bikers for many years, provided important high value recreation opportunities, and that most importantly mechanized bicycle use was compatible with the area … did not succeed. Many of the routes were left out of the official route system in the final TMP decision documents. Following is some key language from our 2011 letter to the WRNF:

“RFMBA respects the WRNF’s multitude of decisions in coming to this Record of Decision, and we propose in this document to work with the WRNF to re-commission specific trails that are being decommissioned. We provide a catalog of trails that are being decommissioned that are in direct conflict with the mountain biking community’s current use patterns. In many cases these are trails that riders will continue to use, potentially unaware of the recent administrative closure. We respect that many trails have been appropriately decommissioned, but we must continue to disagree on certain details of this Travel Management Plan.”

“It is our hope that for existing routes that are being decommissioned, a NEPA process will not be required to reopen the trails for bicycle use. As mentioned above, many of these are well ridden trails. In some cases partial re-routes or trail maintenance may be required to achieve a fully sustainable route.”

2008 mapping analysis of the WRNF Draft TMP created by RFMBA, showing routes proposed to be decommissioned, but advocated to be open to bikes by RFMBA.
The WRNF’s 2011 Travel Management Plan decommissioned many routes in the Hay Park area. Red = decommission, Dashed Orange = open to bikes, Dashed Green = open to foot & horse only. Mt. Sopris is located within the Maroon Bells / Snowmass Wilderness (which does not allow for bike use).

Another early effort in the Hay Park Area for RFMBA was to advocate for boundary adjustments and creative solutions that would retain biking in the area in the face of the Hidden Gems proposal. The Hidden Gems, at an early stage of the campaign in 2009, proposed the entirety of this corner of the WRNF for inclusion as federally designated Wilderness, leaving only the Hay Park Trail as a “mechanized corridor” that would remain open to biking. While this campaign dissipated many years ago locally, it did evolve over time into a public lands bill for Summit and parts of Eagle Counties to become the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which also includes protections for the Thompson Divide. RFMBA is in support of the CORE Act due to the many positive changes made over the years to the legislative proposal, changes that do provide clear benefits to the mountain bike community.

In late 2010 RFMBA proposed “H.G. 3.0”, a version of the proposal that would have been fully supported by mountain bikers while providing additional significant acreage of land protection through non-Wilderness ‘companion designations’.

Understanding that the historic routes closed through the TMP process were important and valuable to both local and visiting riders, RFMBA submitted a detailed proposal in 2013 to the White River National Forest to undertake a trail planning process for the Hay Park Area. The WRNF’s official response letter acknowledged “the proposal submitted offers a viable long term vision for an enhanced mountain bike system in the Hay Park area“, but that limited resources did not allow for immediate action on the proposal. While the proposal is now out of date, it’s still impressive in terms of the existing conditions detailed for the area, and the range of creative ideas proposed that would lead to more access for mountain bikers on more area trails.

In 2013 RFMBA proposed a trail planning process to address historic and future trails in the Hay Park area. If and when such an effort moves forward in the future, the WRNF anticipates some form of a cooperative process that takes into account “multiple different recreation user groups and forest uses outside of recreation”.

As RFMBA has grown in size and capability, we’ve been able to contribute more directly to stewardship of the area’s trails open to mountain bikers. In recent years our Trail Agents, acting as independent trained volunteers, have performed basic maintenance on the Hay Park Trail, clearing fallen trees and cutting back corridor where needed. For three summers in a row now, our Seasonal Trail Crew have used chainsaws and brush cutters to revitalize and maintain the wild Buzzard Basin Trail. In 2019 we partnered with the WRNF, Wilderness Workshop, and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers to reroute a section of the Buzzard Basin Trail, ensuring this trail, which is open to bikes, remained just outside of the adjacent federally designated Wilderness. In 2020 we are partnering with WRNF, WW, and The Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council to restore the entrance to a non-system trail that leads into the Wilderness, while also further improving the quality of experience available on the Buzzard Basin Trail.

These recent advocacy efforts are always keeping in mind the bigger picture in the Hay Park Area. RFMBA continues to review the current status of trails in the area with WRNF staff and other partner organizations. We’ve been clear for many years that we believe that certain trails should be officially open to bikes in the future. We’ll keep working in that direction. In the meantime, thank you for supporting all of the work RFMBA is undertaking to find success and greater access for bikes in this beautiful area.

Trailforks.com shows the trails open to bikes as of 2020. Hay Park Trail shown with a blue line, Buzzard Basin Trail is shown with a black line. WRNF land is shown mostly with a light green overlay, while Mount Sopris is located within Wilderness which is indicated by the dark green overlay. Adjacent to the WRNF lands are some limited BLM lands (tan overlay), and private lands (white overlay).

Job Posting – 2020 Seasonal Trail Crew Members Wanted!

Update on 4/3/2020: positions have been filled for 2020 season. You are still welcome to send us your resume, we’ll keep it on file for future opportunities. Thank you!

RFMBA – Seasonal Trail Crew Member – Summer 2020

Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association – RF Valley, Colorado

Love trails?  Have a passion for mountain biking?  Join RFMBA’s third annual Seasonal Trail Crew, May through August!  Enquire for potential to start earlier and end later.  Ideal candidates will have volunteer or professional experience with singletrack trail maintenance and will be passionate about mountain biking and trail culture.  Spend the summer outdoors, improving local trails from Aspen to New Castle.  Maintain trail tread and drainage structures, trim corridor vegetation, clear fallen trees, and generally improve bike trails in both high-use and remote backcountry areas.  During 2020, three Trail Crew Members will serve as ambassadors for public lands and RFMBA.  Personal vehicle required for remote trailhead access; mileage reimbursement offered for all travel.  Equipment stipend and mobile phone reimbursement offered.  Training requirements are included to improve your trail, tool, safety, and backcountry knowledge.  $15-$18+/hour, 40 hours/week, based on experience.  Learn more by calling 970-948-3486.

To Apply:If interested, please submit a PDF resume to info@rfmba.org.  Resumes & Email introduction statement of interest & experience must be submitted by Friday, April 3 (earlier is better), with availability to work starting between early April or late May.

Position Summary 

• Maintain and improve existing public trails open to mountain biking.  Report accomplishments and identify future maintenance needs on a daily basis.  Serve as an ambassador for public lands and RFMBA.


Essential Duties & Responsibilities 

• Promote public trails and RFMBA’s mission as a friendly ambassador.

• Responsible for the assigned maintenance of specific trail corridors, treads, drainage structures, turn structures, and other trail features.

• Clearly communicate with RFMBA supervisors regarding scheduled and assigned work.

• Learn and utilize online system for daily descriptive reporting of accomplished work and trail issues identified for potential future work.

• Work with RFMBA staff and volunteers on trail maintenance, trail system improvement, or trail construction projects when assigned and scheduled to do so.

• Responsible for all tools provided for the use within the Seasonal Trail Crew Program.

• Additional duties as assigned by RFMBA supervisors.

Education, Experience & Skills 

• High school diploma or equivalent.

• Passion for mountain biking and trail culture (strong understanding of trail experiences desired by all types of mountain bikers on various trail types).

• Trail maintenance or trail construction experience with traditional hand tools (volunteer or professional).

• Experience using a chainsaw or brush cutter (safety training to be provided).

• Ability to handle high stress situations.

• Ability to work both independently and in small groups, while remaining motivated without on-site supervision.

• High intermediate to expert mountain biking skills with the physical dexterity to carry heavy loads while moving downhill.

• Strong communication skills, both written and verbal.

License and Certifications 

• Must have a valid, current, and unrestricted Driver’s license.

• Must maintain standard auto insurance coverage.

Working Conditions 

• Candidates must be willing and able to work in all conditions relative to outdoor weather up to 8 hours per day.

• Must be able to lift and move up to 80 pounds.

• Must be able to lift reasonable weight and will be expected to lop/shovel/chainsaw/etc. for considerable amounts of each work day.

Redstone to McClure Pass Trail – Comment by 3/20/20

Redstone to McClure Pass Trail – Scoping Period Comments due by Thursday 3/20/20. Take a couple minutes and submit your comment today! 

Pitkin County is moving forward on the next stage of the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail.  They have asked the White River National Forest (WRNF) to take a deep look at a particular 7 mile portion called the Redstone to McClure Pass Trail.  This portion of the future trail would be soft-surface or natural surface trail, 3 to 5 feet wide, with a singletrack feel in many places.  A couple of miles would closely parallel Highway 133, while 5 miles would utilize historic routes including the Rock Creek Wagon Road, and the Old McClure Pass Rd.  

Learn more about the Scoping period the will lead to the project’s Environmental Assessment at this link:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56913

During the County’s planning process that resulted in the adoption of an overall vision for the trail between Carbondale and the top of McClure Pass, this segment was generally considered the least controversial and generated little opposition.  However, now that it will be the focus of a more detailed Environmental Assessment, trail users and mountain bikers need to speak up and share their views with the WRNF about this potential trail.  

RFMBA supports this trail’s eventual approval.  When complete, it would allow riders to enjoy a 14 mile out-and-back ride from Redstone.  Some will choose to visit the area and take their time on the trail to enjoy the incredible views available in this part of the Crystal Valley.  Residents who live near Redstone will be able to enjoy this trail without even getting in a motor vehicle.

We also support the long term vision for the overall trail.  While the lower valley trail alignments may take many years to select the best alignment, fully study and approve, and finally construct… they would collectively result in the type of long distance adventures that many cyclists pursue. Whether seeking a day’s ride from Carbondale, up to the Pass and back, or continuing on the Raggeds Trail towards Crested Butte and beyond, approving this first segment in the upper Crystal Valley is the current focus, and deserves your support.

We suggest making your comments be specific to the type of experiences you would personally pursue, or envision others enjoying, on the trail between Redstone and McClure Pass.

Submit your comments using this link today!
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=56913

ASPEN FIFTY – RESULTS & PHOTOS

Thanks to everyone who came out for the 2019 edition of the Aspen FIFTY! We’re grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and want to send a special thanks to WEDU and to all of our volunteers who made this event possible! If you raced, check out this link for photographs taken by Liz Kreutz out on course. Congrats to 50 mile winners Dean Hill & Rachel Beck, and everyone else who enjoyed the long suffer while out on the course!