Trail Rebuilding and Maintenance

Teaming up for some trail work.

Teaming up for some trail work.

A good amount of trail work has been going on in the valley. Some area trails have received maintenance and others are being rebuilt. The trails being reconstructed were impacted by the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire.

The Bureau of Land Management completed the rebuilding of the Croy Trail System and reopened the trails on July 1. The light rains we’ve had, and the traffic the trails have received, have helped firm things up. Previously, some stretches of the trails were somewhat loose and soft. There are still some areas that are a bit spongy, but overall the Croy trails are riding, running, and hiking well.

Eight volunteers with the Wood River Bicycle Coalition (WRBC) worked with Ketchum Ranger District (KRD) Recreation Manager Zach Poff in the Deer Creek Drainage recently. They built a section of trail at the top of the North Fork Deer Creek Road. Following the fire, large volumes of soil and rock washed down the hillsides here. Nearby, Howard’s Trail was only lightly impacted by the fire. To open Howard’s Trail, a way across to it would need to be established. Additionally, by creating one trail across the open, disturbed wash, the area would be less likely to become braided with redundant user-created trails. The volunteers worked with Poff to develop an appropriate alignment for the trail section, then they cleared the corridor and built a trail across the debris flow.

Idaho Conservation Corp youth at work on Osberg Ridgeline Trail.

Idaho Conservation Corp youth at work on Osberg Ridgeline Trail.

The KRD is in the process of rebuilding a number of fire impacted trails. This season, one focus is on the rebuilding of the Osberg Ridgeline Trail. Renee Catherin, Trail Superintendent for the KRD, is shooting for a late-August opening. She has youth crews from the Idaho Conservation Corp (ICC) here this summer working on the trail. The ICC crews are under the leadership of Catherin’s seasoned forest service trail crew members. Several weeks ago they got started on the east end of the trail near Fox Peak, where they took care of a number of problem areas. Then work got underway on the west end of the trail; near the trailhead located at the end of Baker Creek Road. Here, where the trail accesses the ridge by way of Lost Shirt Gulch, two large log and plank bridges were built by the KRD crew. They span large, fire-impacted drainage-ways/stream-cuts. Having them in place allows for access to the work needed on the more westerly portions of the trail.

Out the Warm Springs drainage the KRD is leading another ICC crew on the repair of the Placer Creek Trail. This trail got hammered during the fire, and in the storms which followed. The trail was mostly obliterated by debris flows, and it includes large areas where a great deal of downed wood will need to be cut out. The nearby Castle Rock Trail was also damaged in the fire and storms. The KRD performed a good deal of work up high on that trail last year. Those efforts paid off when storms rolled through the area last summer. Drainage structures held and water was diverted off of the trail. Down lower, a number of large debris flows crossed the Castle Rock Trail. The KRD hopes to address that damage as part of this summer’s work in the area.

On the Fox Creek Trail the KRD and ICC crews worked to repair a section of the trail that had become incised (deeply cut and “V” shaped). This ditch-like portion of the trail is near the high point of the loop, and near to the small drying pond found there. The trail was deeply set and becoming difficult to negotiate. The crews improved the drainage of the trail, reshaped a turn that leads into the incised area, and made other repairs to the trail tread. The result is much more user friendly route that retains the original character of the trail.

Idaho Conservation Corp and KRD tackling tread on Choc. Gulch Tr.

Idaho Conservation Corp and KRD tackling tread on Choc. Gulch Tr.

In the Chocolate Gulch drainage the KRD, ICC, and volunteers with the WRBC worked with yours truly, Chris Leman (BCRD Wood River Valley Trail Coordinator) on rerouting a section of that trail. The portion of the Chocolate Gulch Trail near its intersection with Saddle Trail was becoming increasingly incised and difficult to walk on. People were choosing alternative ways up the drainage, creating paralleling trails next to the original path. The cause for the incisement was the trail’s alignment. Here, the trail was in the bottom of the drainage and in the fall line of the hill. In other words, the trail could not be drained, and water flowing on the trail was cutting down deeply into the trail. The new route roughly parallels the original alignment, but it is up on an adjacent hillside, and it follows a much more circuitous path. Putting the trail up on the adjacent hillside will allow the trail to be drained and maintained.

There is something for everyone on Galena's new trails.

There is something for everyone on Galena’s new trails.

At Galena Lodge the BCRD and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area are building more trails this summer. Last year they put in about 13 miles of new trails designed for mainly beginner and intermediate trail users. This summer they are continuing to build and bring smiles to visitors and locals alike. Some of the routes going in this season are a bit more demanding, and a whole lot of fun. The new additions to the Galena Grinder Trail, and the new Rip and Tear Trail are ready for your enjoyment. You can get a map at the lodge, sign up for a guided tour, or enroll in their new Mountain Bike School, which has offerings for everyone from newbies to experts.

My work lately has been directed at front-country trail maintenance projects. I’ve been cutting out downed trees, brushing back trails, cleaning out drainage structures, reshaping areas of tread that have become too outsloped, and doing other tasks on our area “trade routes.”

Our next volunteer trail work opportunity is this Thursday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. We will meet at the Lake Creek Trailhead to install new signposts on the Fox Creek Trail. For more information please click on this link to the “Volunteer” page at the BCRD Summer TraiLink site.

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