Trail crews are the cornerstone of fulfilling the mission of The Colorado Trail Foundation.
Our work here at the CTF, in the most basic terms, is to provide the opportunity for volunteers to donate their time and energy to building and maintaining The Colorado Trail. Our volunteers share, at least, one great passion: spending time in beautiful natural settings like those found on The Colorado Trail. After experiencing the transformative and life changing experiences on the CT, they are often compelled to perform work that allows others, complete strangers, to have an opportunity for similar experiences.
In the fall and winter, we work with the USFS and plan for the next year’s projects which are published on February 1st each year. In the spring, we make sure all of the tools, equipment, food, and other supplies are ready to go. In the summer, of course, we execute all of the projects. And then, we reflect on and learn from what went well and the progress made and we start the process all over again. It’s always fun to look back and recognize the massive amount of effort that our volunteers put into the CT each year.
In 2023, you all did a lot! Here is a quick breakdown of your accomplishments:
- 18 Trail Crews
- 302 volunteers (including crew leaders, apprentices, cooks, volunteers)
- 11,240 volunteer hours contributed (that equates to a staggering 1,405 8 hour work days)
- One trail crew leader training
- One Tool and Gear Extravaganza
- Two new crew leaders trained
- Five new crew leader apprentices
- Four new cooks trained
- Three new bridges constructed and four repaired
- Hundreds of drains cleaned and/or constructed
- 250 square feet of rock retaining walls constructed
- Approximately 1.25 miles of new trail constructed
This work is instrumental in being able to provide a wonderful experience for trail users of all kinds. It allows for experiences like this one from ‘Cheeky’: “I had Cancer 2 years ago and this was my mental and physical reset. I went in with the goal of crushing it and I definitely got crushed by the trail! It was a hugely positive experience and it exceeded my expectations in so many ways.”
Keep reading for just a snippet of the work completed over this amazing and successful year, and make sure to check out the 2023 Impact Report for a great summary of the work you all performed.
Lime Creek | August 27-September 2 | Leader: Connie Wian | Sponsor: Sarah Musil:
In the notoriously sandy San Juans, there was a huge washout of epic proportions that this Lime Creek crew went in to alleviate. This 10-foot-deep gully was too large and remote to build a bridge over, so the crew was instructed to build a new trail around it. Knowing the challenges with sandy soil in the area, the crew built a new trail utilizing exposed bedrock and durable rocky terrain. They constructed 400 feet of new trail and did what they could to prevent more erosion in the gully. They also removed rocks from about 50 feet of trail which were complicating travel for bike and horseback users. Another 45 feet of trail was widened to make sure there was sufficient clearance for all users. Finally, this crew was able to make substantial drainage improvements in the hopes of avoiding formation of additional gullies.
Crew Volunteers: Ethan Ball, Allison Dixon, Matthew Nunes, Ben Platt, Gene Tison, Andrea Toupin, Kris Van Tatenhove, Brian Verbeck, John Voss.
Three Elk Creek | July 6-10 | Leader: Paul Smith | Sponsor: Mike Yeomans:
The Three Elk Creek crew was split to work on two different bridges, 10 miles apart, in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. The first bridge was barely recognizable as a bridge but rather a ramshackle pile of sticks over the raging Three Elk Creek. It was in an unsafe condition for Trail users. Four large spruce trees, that were carefully selected to be of similar diameters, were cut down and stripped of bark to make a new bridge. The peeling was the easy part on a new tree with lots of flowing sap. The hard part was transporting the logs safely, hundreds of feet down a steep hillside, to the creek. It took the whole crew acting in unison to accomplish this task. This crew also repaired the rickety old bridge across Pine Creek. They not only replaced the running planks with new ones, but also improved the approach and tightened up loose railings. Finally, the crew installed a new, ever important, Wilderness boundary sign. Special thanks to Halfmoon Outfitters for hauling in lumber and the Wilderness sign many miles to take a substantial burden off of the other volunteers.
Crew Volunteers: Erin Boodey, Joe Cole, Ron Dudek, Perry Gridley, Jaime Jennings, Jason Johnson, William Mcauliffe, Jon Plasterer, Kailene Robinson, Gene Tison, Kelsey Wales.
Ladies Only Gurnsey Creek | August 3-6 | Leaders and Cooks: Cindy Johnson and Robin Mino | Sponsor: Athletic Brewing:
The Colorado Trail Foundation has been hosting ladies only crews for many years, as an opportunity for volunteers to have a unique experience with like-minded groups. Trail work has historically been a largely male dominated activity, so we are proud to create an opportunity like this. The CTF was in fact created by a woman, Gudy Gaskill, who is a pioneer in the arena of volunteer trail work. The ladies on this crew worked on the continuation of a reroute of project that had been started in 2022, to fix a poorly laid out section of trail. This old trail was deeply rutted in the middle and now has multiple social trails adjacent to it. Trail users will see this all over the world, a trail is designed poorly, suffers from erosion issues, becomes grooved or rutted out, and users create a new trail because the adjacent terrain is simply so much easier to use. The newly constructed portion of Trail was built on a side hill to incorporate better trail grades which will help with long term sustainability and erosion control.
Crew Volunteers: Sara Anderson, Mercedes Aponte, Siena Berry, Rachael Bray, Suzy Burger, Sara Halac, Jennifer Ingold, Jamie Johnston, Solei Johnston, Marybeth Jones, Natalie Korder, Laura Olson, Emily Paulson, Pam Peters, Barbara Richey, Alice Schiel, Allison Schoenback, Nancy Stevens, Marcia Weaks, Jenna Yeager