Beat the heat, camp out in the mountains, and get your hands dirty building trails with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) this weekend.
The Manti-La Sal National Forest, in cooperation with the Moab Mountain Bike Association (MMBA), Trail Mix and Rim Tours, will be holding a volunteer Trail Work Weekend (TWW) on Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and13 near La Sal Pass. Participants are invited to camp out at Medicine Lake and enjoy food and beverages provided by Rim Tours, a local mountain bike outfitter.
“Come on up, camp out, build some trails, and eat some great food,” Rim Tours co-owner Matt Hebberd said. “The more volunteers we get, the more trails we get.”
Because of budgetary constraints, the USFS often uses volunteers to help construct trails. They work under the supervision of the USFS, and use Forest Service hand tools to construct trails.
Hebberd started supporting trail work on weekends in Crested Butte, Colo. over 16 years ago as part of a commitment to help maintain trails in the Gunnison National Forest where his company is permitted to run trips.
“With all the trail groups in Moab now, I thought we could get a good turn-out if we started to organize TWW’s up in the La Sals,” Hebberd said.
He organized the first one about 4 years ago. They had 6-8 campers working on the Moonlight Meadows trail. The idea has since taken off, attracting up to 30 volunteers at the most recent TWW.
This year, Hebberd has organized three TWWs, to help the USFS get a start on new trails as part of the Moab Non-Motorized Trail Project (MNMTP). The MNMTP was developed in response to a need for more recreational opportunities in the La Sal Mountains, and to minimize conflict between different user groups.
“The current trail system didn’t come about with recreation in mind,” said Brian Murdock, USFS recreation, trails and wilderness manager.
In May, members of MMBA worked with the USFS as part of a TWW on the Jimmy Keen Trail (JKT) located on the northwestern end of the La Sal Mountains. When finished, the JKT will form a 10-mile connecting loop with the Upper Porcupine Single-track (UPS) trail. Seven miles of new trail will be constructed, and three miles of existing road will be used.
This weekend, Murdock plans to direct volunteers to work on a section of trail called Burlfriends, that when completed, will form a roughly six-mile connecting loop with already-existing portions of the South Mountain Trail.
“The La Sal Pass trail system will be our second-highest trail system open to mountain biking,” Murdock said. “It will provide a great place to escape the summer heat and ride through alpine meadows and aspen stands at the base of Mount Peale.”
The MNMTP has been in the works for over four years. The USFS solicited public comment and held public meetings as well as conducted an environmental assessment (EA). The process took into account recreational needs and conflicts, as well as resource protection and wildlife concerns.
In September 2013, the USFS issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which gave the go ahead for the construction of nearly 30 miles of trail on 24 new trail sections.
Many of the sections will serve as connectors to existing trails like the 1.5-mile Geyser Pass to Burro Pass trailhead segment that will be completed later this week.
“This will enhance the Whole Enchilada trail by making it possible to ride on single track all the way from the Geyser Pass trailhead,” Murdock said.
The construction and designation of hiking and horseback only trails are also part of the MNMTP. After completing the mountain bike loop, The Forest Service trail crew and members of the Canyon Country Youth Corps (CCYC) will remain at La Sal Pass to construct a hiking trail for access to the summit of Mount Tukunikivatz. They will also be working in Gold Basin later in the summer.
Murdock would like to urge people to come up and help out this weekend, as well as enjoy the recreational opportunities offered in the La Sal Mountains.
“Most people don’t think of high alpine mountains and cool pine forests when they think of Moab, but we have just that within a 30-minute drive from town,” he said.
Hebberd is looking forward to this weekend’s TWW and is hoping for a good turnout. In addition to providing meals and beverages as an enticement, he will also be holding a free raffle with “lots of good swag.”
For more information on trails and recreation in the La Sal Mountains, or to participate in the upcoming volunteer trail weekend, contact Brian Murdock at the USFS, 435-259-7155.
For more information on trails and recreation in the La Sal Mountains, or to participate in the upcoming volunteer trail weekend on Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13, contact Brian Murdock at the USFS, 435-259-7155
:“The La Sal Pass trail system will be our second-highest trail system open to mountain biking. It will provide a great place to escape the summer heat and ride through alpine meadows and aspen stands at the base of Mount Peale.”
Local organizations team up with Forest Service for trail building days this weekend