What do you get when a horse, a shovel and a team of people wearing face masks walk into the forest? Trail restoration! This past weekend, we partnered the White River National Forest, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council, and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers to improve the trail system in the Hay Park Area at the base of Mount Sopris.

We completed restoration work to close an unauthorized route that led into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, and improved the northernmost section of the Buzzard Basin Trail, which allows for a loop on the Capitol Creek side of the Hay Park Trail. An extended thank you to the dozen volunteers who joined in the effort, both restoring impacts to the wilderness area and enhancing portions of the existing trail system in places where it is overgrown.

The Hay Park Trail includes more than 9 miles of riding and hiking through meadows and large aspen groves with stunning views of Capitol Peak and the Roaring Fork Valley. While the Hay Park Trail is a classic bike ride, several old logging roads and social trails formed an unauthorized route into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, that was seeing increasing use. Mountain biking along with other mechanized and motorized use and travel is prohibited in designated wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act. This restoration project rewilded more than 4 miles of unauthorized routes that extended into wilderness.

Together we all worked last summer on a project to reroute a portion of the Buzzard Basin Trail out of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness to ensure mountain bike use could continue on the trail. Both of these projects improved the recreational experience of the area while maintaining wilderness values, and were the result of a successful collaboration between a variety of groups. The White River National Forest has for a number of years prioritized trail and restoration work in Hay Park, which has dramatically improved the recreation and ecological values of this popular area.