The Colorado Trail Foundation and partners would like to announce the official opening of the new Fooses Creek realignment on Segment 15.
After over a decade of work by The Colorado Trail Foundation and partners, the South Fooses Creek trail, which is part of the nationally recognized Monarch Crest mountain bike ride, realignment is officially open! This new realignment is about three miles long and is a product of partnership and collaboration between CTF, USFS, Colorado Mountain Club, and many other partners! The CTF is proud to share this news and more background on this project.
Trail users might remember this section of The Colorado Trail, which is near the southern terminus of Collegiate East on Segment 15, as one of the steepest sections of the entire trail. The realignment will offer sustainable grades utilizing switchbacks, excellent views of the valley and the Monarch Crest, and improved camp sites and water access. This project started in 2006 with an initial evaluation of a possible realignment and has been reworked many times over the years since then to settle on the perfect new trail alignment. A large hurdle for this project was balancing trail user access with big game hunting and protecting wildlife habitat in the project vicinity, and this was resolved through collaboration with our partners at Colorado Parks and Wildlife and others.
The work done on this project was a partnership between many groups, including CTF volunteer trail crews; the USFS (Salida Ranger District); Southwest Conversation Corps; the Colorado Mountain Club; Terra Firma; Singletrack Trails, the contractor hired to assist with trail construction; and others. CTF volunteers built around 70% of this new trail in challenging conditions, working at a high elevation, and dodging notorious Rocky Mountain thunderstorms. In 2022 and 2023, CTF hosted a total of seven Fooses volunteer trail crews utilizing over 125 volunteers who contributed over 4,000 hours of volunteer work, an impressive effort. Crews were also assisted by horsepackers, who are invaluable for hauling heavy supplies in and out of work areas.
On September 20th, 2023, CTF hosted a huge day of corridor clearing where we estimate 250 trees and stumps were cleared in one massive effort by 10 sawyers and 3 swampers. On September 28th, 2023, the reroute finally opened to the public, and we welcome you to help us wear in the new tread by hiking and riding it before snow sets in soon. There will be more work done on this section in 2024 as we work proactively to remove additional hazards and beetle kill trees before they fall across the trail.
For those wondering about the old section, the plan is to let the snow close it in 2023. In 2024, crews will officially close and restore the old section. While we know some trail users in the mountain biking community will miss the more technical sections of the old route, we also recognize that this section of trail is used by many different user groups (thru-hikers and bikers, day hikers and bikers, horseback riders, and more) and strive to balance making the trail as fun and accessible as possible for everyone. Some common trail construction techniques used in this effort included increasing tread width, controlling steep grades, hardening the trail surface in wet areas to improve durability, and providing for good visibility around turns and switchbacks. We also expect the new route to melt out and then dry out earlier in the spring than the old section, which means trail users will have an even longer season to hike and ride this section of The Colorado Trail.
Now that the new trail alignment is built, The Colorado Trail Foundation will ensure it is well marked and maintained in the future through our volunteer trail crews and Adopt-A-Trail program, which allows individuals to adopt and take ownership of light maintenance needs on their section of The Trail. The Adopters that take care of this section of segment 15 are Greg Baxter and Vincent Franzen. They are very dedicated to their section of the CT and will ensure it remains in excellent condition.
Please join us in celebrating the culmination of this project and watch for an official grand opening event on the trail in 2024. We hope you are able to get out and experience the new alignment before Old Man Winter tightens his grip on the Sawatch. Happy trails to you from the entire CTF team!