Pulling Together on Trail Projects

Natalie, Angela, and Rayden building a drain.

While much of the Ketchum Ranger District’s recreation staff has been pulled away to work on the Sharps Fire, other KRD Trail Crew members have stayed back to manage ongoing and planned-for maintenance projects. On Sunday they packed in an Idaho Youth Corps crew’s gear and tools for a project on Placer Creek Trail #141.

The ICC and KRD crews are at work on the trail now, camping near the low end of the trail and hiking in each day to build new drainage structures, rake rocks, clean out existing drains, and install other needed repairs along the route. Next week they will move camp; up to near to the trail’s high point, so that they can work on the more distant parts of the route.

Jess Simon in one of the two mini-excavators being employed by Red Elephant Trails on the project.

In another part of the forest, the Alden Gulch Trail 144 is getting rebuilt. The Alden Gulch drainage burned very intensely during the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire, with the trail being pretty much wiped away by the fire and storms that followed it. The KRD has hired the local trail contracting company Red Elephant Trails for 3.3 miles of the five-mile long project. The National Forest Foundation, a non-profit who’s mission is to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests, hired Red Elephant for the remaining 1.7 miles of the build.

Justin Blackstead cutting out the corridor.

The KRD Trail Crew is doing the bulk of the handwork in front of, and behind the machines. A crew is out ahead, cutting out trees that need to be removed from the trail construction corridor, and they are doing finish work on the partially completed trail tread and travel way.

The KRD has gathered together a great many partners on the Alden Gulch project, which was necessary in order to go forward with the ambitious five-mile long re-build. Partnering with the KRD on it are the National Forest Foundation5B Restoration CoalitionThe Wood River Bicycle Coalition, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, IMBA, Sawtooth Back Country Horsemen, Idaho Conservation Corps, The BCRD. (Who am I forgetting? Remind me by leaving a comment below).

KRD Trail Crew Supervisor Justin Blackstead and Red Elephant Trails owner Brian Vaughan discussing the build.

Armored creek-ford and trail.

Work is proceeding nicely on the 144 reconstructions, with the contractor crafting some nice rockwork at creek crossings and on steep areas requiring rock armoring. The trail will make a non-motorized connection from Baker Creek Road to Osberg Ridgeline Trail 147. The route is intended to be challenging, rugged, and fun.

The Alden Gulch Trail, and the entire Alden Gulch drainage is closed for the safety of the public. The closure of the area also helps the crews that are at work there; helping them work safely without the need for interuptions from a curious public. Stay safe and stay out to the drainage completely.

The Placer Creek Trail remains open. Work on it will be ongoing through next week, but if you get a chance to travel it you are welcome to do so. Just stop well away from anyone doing any work and announce your presence. The workers may not be aware of your approach, and its nice to give them a heads up before you get too close. Stop and say hi. They’re a great group of young people who I’m sure would be happy to take a break from their labors to hear some words of encouragement. Heck, take them a bag of apples, or some kind of treat. They deserve it!

Cathalee and Seamus in foreground. Ryan, Megan, Murphy, and Mark in background.

Thanks ICC Crew Leaders Megan and Mark, and thank you ICC Crew members Rayden, Angela, Natalie, Seamus, Cathalee, Ryan, Megan, Boe, and Finn. Thank you KRD Trail Crew members Sam and Murphy for leading the work.