Aug. 27, 2020
Carbondale, Colo. — A group of recreation and public land organizations partnered this past weekend to improve the trail system in the Hay Park Area at the base of Mount Sopris. The work was a partnership between the White River National Forest, Wilderness Workshop, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council, and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers.

The groups completed restoration work to close an unauthorized route that led into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area. They also improved the northernmost section of the Buzzard Basin Trail, which allows for a loop on the Capitol Creek side of the Hay Park Trail. A dozen volunteers joined representatives from the partnering organizations to improve the trail system in the area, 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, which 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.

The same set of partners worked last summer 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.

Photos from the project can be found here. 

The following are quotes from organizations and volunteers that participated in the restoration project:

“Partnerships such as this play a key role in helping the Forest Service get work done on the ground. This project brought together a diverse group of partners with the common interest of enhancing the area while maintaining a balance of interests.” – Kevin Warner, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger

“Recreation, like other uses on our public lands, requires thoughtful management both to maintain our world-class trail system and ensure wildlife habitat, wilderness and other ecological values are protected. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with partner organizations in the valley to manage sustainable trail systems, and the community of volunteers we have stewarding our public lands is truly inspiring.” – Juli Slivka, Wilderness Workshop Conservation Director 

“Mountain bikers will have an easier time finding the northern entrance of the Buzzard Basin Trail now that official signage is installed and the trail has been maintained and improved. While we expect more work to improve other parts of this trail in the future, we encourage riders to go and explore and enjoy these wild lands one day soon.”  – Mike Pritchard, RFMBA Executive Director

“Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council is very pleased to have been included in the Hay Park Trail project. We value hands on volunteer work and this is directly related to our mission of working with the greater community to ‘keep horses on the trails.’ Meeting and working with other members of the recreational community added extra value to our trip.” – Susan Cuseo, Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council (RFVHC) Secretary & Trails

“We had a great day in the field, collaborating with our partner organizations and accomplishing a great deal. We love coming together with our fellow organizations, though our specific missions may differ, we are all in agreement about caring for our public lands and engaging our community.” – Daniel Benavent, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) Program Manager

“I enjoyed working with volunteers who are hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. We all want to improve the trails we use and to protect the environment. If every trail user from Independence Pass to Rifle volunteered for our public lands one day a year, think how much we could accomplish together!” – Helen Carlsen, Long-time Wilderness Workshop Volunteer