Area land managers are making progress on trail construction and trail maintenance projects around the valley.
Lift-served mountain biking is expanding this summer with two new trails on Bald Mountain. The trails will connect the existing Lupine and Saddle Up trails above the Roundhouse Gondola to the base of River Run. Once the trails are completed, it will give riders a nearly 10-mile top-to-bottom riding experience.
The trails being built on Baldy were submitted to the Bureau of Land Management for approval in 2012 and approved for construction in 2015. The trails are being built in cooperation with the International Mountain Bicycling Association Trail Solutions and Red Elephant Trails.
At present, the only way to egress off of the mountain, on a mountain bike, is by way of the Warm Springs Perimeter Trail, or the Cold Springs Perimeter Trail. These are both accessed from the top of the mountain. As an alternative, riders presently have the option of using the lifts to download off Baldy. With the completion of the new trails riders will have a way to get from the top of Baldy to the River Run base area.
Before any construction began, the trail builders, and Julian Tyo, Sun Valley Company Summer Trail Manager, worked to refine the alignments of the trails that were to be built. Once the final flagging was in place the S.V. Co hand crew got to work cutting-out the construction corridor. Then the machines were fired up.
The Baldy team is using a combination of machines and handwork. The machines are designed specifically for trail construction. They include a mini-bulldozer and a mini-excavator. The bulldozer makes quick work of cutting tread and moving large volumes of soil for the construction of turns, jumps, and landing zones. The mini-excavator is used to refine the turns, jumps, and landing areas, and also to cut the trail’s backslope, distribute spoils, and do other heavy-lifting.
Manpower, at the end of hand tools, is critically important in the construction of trails. The Sun Valley Company’s trail crew has been killing-it all season long. Besides cutting out the corridor, the crew is busy cutting backslope, shaping turns and jumps, raking and compacting soils into riding surfaces, and doing it over and over again to make a super finished-product.
Currently, the Sun Valley Company is working on the construction of an intermediate trail that runs from the bottom of Lupine and Saddle Up/Roundhouse/top of the Gondola, down to the top of the River Run Trail. Once that is completed they will move to the building of an advanced skill-level mountain bike trail. Its high end will be right near to the top of the River Run Trail. Descending riders will have a choice. They will be able to take the River Run Trail down, or they may choose to take the new advanced trail down to the River Run base area. Here is a link to videos, a map, and other info about the new trails being built on Baldy – scroll down the page that opens to get to the article and videos: Future Plans/Sun Valley.
On other fronts, the Ketchum Ranger District has made solid progress on a number of local projects on the Sawtooth National Forest.
They have employed youth crews with the Idaho Conservation Corp to assist them with a number of heavy-maintenance projects. On the Oregon Gulch Trail they have been working to improve existing drains along the trail, and to install new drains to help keep water from flowing on the steeply aligned route. On the nearby Oregon-Fox Connector Trail they are in the process of completing the installation of some reroutes on the trail’s southwest side. Work on the Oregon Gulch Trail and the Oregon-Fox Connector Trail is ongoing so watch for crews at work.