Trails are lifeblood when it comes to how we get outside and play. Here are the numbers when it comes to the paths we trod and the people and organizations who build and maintain them.
There’s no denying it: From Durango to Denver, Coloradans love their trails, and the evidence is everywhere, from the folks willing to put their backs into building and caring for them all the way up to the policy makers in the governor’s office. Here’s a closer look at what happens with trails when Coloradans decide to get some dirt under their nails.
The ranking for trail use, Colorado’s number one recreational activity, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 2017 fact sheet. It’s no wonder: Recreation participation studies indicate that 83 percent of Coloradans use trails. It adds up to more than 227 million activity days—the ones when you’re out there hiking, running, mountain biking, horseback riding or heading for your favorite fishing hole. cpw.state.co.us
The year through which Colorado’s Lottery Division will fund outdoors projects throughout the state. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill extending the lottery’s funding, which was scheduled to end in 2024, on May 1. That means 31 more years of lottery proceeds going to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Conservation Trust Fund and Great Outdoors Colorado, which has awarded grants for recreation and conservation projects in every county in Colorado. Since it started in 1992, Great Outdoors Colorado has restored 900 miles of trails in the state. Let’s see what they can do over the next three decades. goco.org
The number of miles of trail opened to mountain bikers in Rocky Mountain National Park this spring. The National Park Service has traditionally been reticent to allow two-wheeled activity on its footpaths, and at the vast majority of parks, bikes are only allowed on park roads (paved and unpaved). Some mountain bikers consider the two-mile stretch on the East Shore Trail a small but significant access win in one of the nation’s most popular outdoor destinations: Rocky Mountain was the fourth most visited national park in 2017, with more than 4.4 million visitors. nps.gov/romo
10 to 15
The number of people per day that trail crews with Colorado Fourteeners Initiative documented on San Luis Peak, one of the least-climbed of the easier fourteeners in the state, according to Lloyd Athearn, executive director of the initiative. “Many days, the crew didn’t encounter people at all,” he says. The initiative will work on more-popular peaks again this summer, including Mount Elbert and Mount Columbia, where it has multi-year trail-improvement projects. On Columbia, crews are addressing the technical challenges of building trails on high peaks, moving large rocks from elsewhere on the mountain to build trail through a scree field, Athearn says. On Elbert, the state’s highest and most-hiked fourteener, they’ll build switchbacks into a badly eroded section of trail this summer. How many people are hiking fourteeners, anyway? In 2016, the organization estimated 311,000 hiker days on fourteeners, and this summer it will post 22 counters on trails to track users. 14ers.org
The number of feet of social trails the Access Fund helped close last year at climbing areas around the country. Closing trails isn’t usually a good thing, but in this case, it is. Social trails to crags often end up turning into a web of paths, causing erosion issues and plant degradation, says Ty Tyler of the Access Fund. “A lot of our trials are really short. You think of places on the Front Range of Colorado, like Boulder Canyon or Clear Creek Canyon—some of them are just 100 yards, but within that, you can have six social trails. We’re trying to eliminate that.” The Access Fund helps local climbing groups close social trails and “harden and solidify originals, so climbers can use them and so they are sustainable in the long-term,” he says. accessfund.org
The number of trail crews helping the Colorado Trail Foundation work on the 486-mile Colorado Trail this summer. About 700 people volunteer for trail work and other duties every year, says Bill Manning, executive director of the foundation. The foundation schedules crews in places where the trail needs some love based on scouting reports from the previous fall; this year, the foundation decided that more backcountry stretches of trail, far from where a crew can car camp, needed attention. “We set up more backpack crews knowing it would be challenging to fill them,” says Manning. Indeed, it has been a challenge—they still need helpers on those crews. Sign up at coloradotrail.org
Estimated mileage of trails in Colorado being captured in the Colorado Trail Explorer, an interactive map that’s part of Gov. Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative to connect more people with wild places. The map consolidates information from different agencies and gives a clearer picture of the trail options, for all user groups, near you. cpw.state.co.us/cts
Latest date that a 60-plus-mile singletrack route from Marshall Mesa in Boulder, over Rollins Pass, and down to Winter Park will open. There’s still a lot of work to be done to begin the process, but planners are confident the necessary trail construction, which will add to many already existing segments, will start very soon. Partners on the project include Boulder County Parks and Open Space, the U.S. Forest Service, Eldorado Canyon State Park and City of Boulder Open Space, Mountain Parks Department as well as the Headwaters Trails Alliance and the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance. Called the Indian Peaks Traverse, the non-motorized route will be open to hikers, horses and mountain bikes. indianpeakstraverse.org