All posts by rfmba

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!

RFMBA statement on eMTB’s – September 2019

Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association issues statement on Electric Mountain Bikes in response to recent Dept. of Interior Secretarial Order 3376.
RFMBA’s Board of Directors has watched the evolution of E-Bikes, and specifically eMTB’s, over recent years.  We’ve held off on stating anything more detailed than support for IMBA’s policy on this topic as the technology itself, and attitudes towards the technology, has been evolving rapidly. 

As of September 2019, RFMBA supports IMBA’s policy on this topic which can be summarized as follows: 

  • eMTB’s should be managed as distinct from traditional bikes.
  • eMTB’s are available in three distinct classes, and should be managed as such when deciding which class of eMTB can or can’t access particular trails.
  • Access to trails for traditional mountain bikes is critical to our sport; management of eMTB’s on these same trails must not lead to threats to traditional mountain bike access.  
  • Each public land manager should undertake an open public process to decide where eMTB access should be allowed (on a trail by trail or area by area basis).  Local mountain bike advocacy groups’ views should be taken into consideration in those public processes.
  • Trail access for Class 1 eMTB’s, which provide unique characteristics, can be supported on shared use trails as long as access is not lost or impeded for traditional mountain bikes. Class 1 technology is pedal assist only, up to 20mph, no push button throttle.

The local impact of DOI Secretarial Order 3376 is not yet known, but RFMBA awaits a response from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about what public process may be required to legally implement the Secretary’s desired policy.  We recognize that many non-motorized trail advocates and land conservation organizations may take a hardline stance and will seek to fight this policy in its entirety, possibly in the federal courts.   While acknowledging the (1) ongoing and seemingly inevitable growth in eMTB sales worldwide, the (2) positive benefits for certain users and for the health and wellness of our communities, the (3) limited impacts of Class 1 technology by enthusiastic users who respect traditional trail etiquette rules, and the (4) difficulty in enforcing ongoing eMTB prohibitions, RFMBA seeks a middle ground solution between full prohibition and full access for all classes of eMTB’s on all trails currently open to mountain bikes in our region.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, our most popular BLM trails include the Red Hill Special Recreation Management Area, the Crown Special Recreation Management Area (aka Prince Creek), the New Castle Extensive Recreation Management Area, and the Lorax Trail, among others.  In contrast to Order 3376, RFMBA does not support Class 2 (propelled by a throttle button) or Class 3 (maximum pedal assist speed of 28mph, a sliver below an electric motorcycle’s rating) on any BLM trails that are currently managed for traditional mountain bike use.  We recognize that Class 2 and Class 3 E-Bikes have positive use cases for transportation and recreation on roads and trails open to motor vehicles and on specific paved bike paths. 

RFMBA acknowledges that Class 1 eMTB’s (with pedal assist technology limited to 20 mph) can have positive benefits for certain users.  When following traditional trail etiquette, Class 1 eMTB users can coexist on shared use trails with limited additional impact compared to traditional mountain bikes.  RFMBA recommends judicious use of this technology; in particular, we encourage younger riders to enjoy the life long benefits and joys of traditional mountain bikes before seeking out Class 1 eMTB experiences.  We understand the benefits that Class 1 eMTB’s can provide for those who are seeking improved health and exercise through pedal assist technology.  At the same time, we believe that it is OK to have mountain bike trails where Class 1 eMTB access remains prohibited.  For example, a directional trail that is primarily used by mountain bikers would be a better location for public land managers to allow Class 1 eMTB access, compared to a high-use two-way trail where a majority of users are hikers, runners, and dog walkers.  

In the coming weeks, RFMBA will publish a list of BLM trails that we could support for shared use Class 1 eMTB access, on the assumption this support would not threaten or impede current traditional mountain bike access.

In the coming months RFMBA will study a similar question for other area trails.  Which, if any, trails currently open to mountain bikes on White River National Forest, Town of Snowmass Village, City of Aspen, Pitkin County Open Space & Trails, and other land managers might be appropriate for future Class 1 eMTB access? Many trails in our region include easements across private property that will not allow for electric pedal assist motors in the future. Current prohibitions on eMTB’s are likely to remain place for a long time, if not permanently, as public processes have not been scheduled by most of these public land managers. Regardless, we welcome feedback from our current members and partners on this complex topic.