One trail will be built, and another trail section will be temporarily closed on the San Juan National Forest near Dolores.
Work is expected to begin on the 5-mile McPhee Overlook Trail in May, with completion scheduled for this fall, said Tom Rice, forest recreation planner for the forest’s Dolores district.
The trail begins in Dolores, switchbacks up the mesa, then hugs the cliffs above McPhee Reservoir. It then traverses the mesa’s pinon-juniper forest, descends to the House Creek campground and connects with the Bean Canyon trail and Boggy Draw trail network.
“It’s the newest trail on our side of the forest,” Rice said.
The trail will cost a bit north of $200,000, he said. In 2014, it was awarded $100,000 from Colorado’s Trail Program for non-motorized trails.
In March, the Dolores district was awarded a 21st Century grant for $63,000 to complete the trail. The funding will pay for a trail crew from the Southwest Conservation Corp.
“The crew will be out in June, then come back in the Fall,” Rice said. “We plan to have a community volunteer day as well.”
In July, the National Forest’s Trails Unlimited crews will be on site to do some of the heavy lifting, dirt work, and engineering needed for the trail.
“We’re excited to move forward, and could not have done it without the support of the Dolores community,” Rice said.
Damaged section of Calico Trail is closedAn official closure order has been implemented on a damaged section of the Calico Trail for 4 miles between the northern trailhead off Forest Service Road 471, south to the East Fork of Fall Creek.
A wet spring and summer in 2015 created wetter than normal conditions where the trail crosses the meadow of natural fens and wetlands. Trail users caused additional damage, despite signs encouraging the trail section be avoided.
“The trail has extreme damage,” said Dolores District ranger Derek Padilla. “It’s become entrenched and braided.”
To prevent it from deteriorate further, the decision was to close it for this year to give forest officials time to find trail funding to fix it.
“We can’t allow anymore impact,” Padilla said. “With a closure order, we can take action and issue citations.”
Reconstruction will involve building a turnpike that will elevate the trail above the chronically wet meadow. A geo-tech liner will also be installed underneath the elevated trail to allow water to naturally flow. Repairs are expected to cost more than $100,000.
A controversy over grant funding is delaying its repair, forest officials said.
The trail’s uses are currently being evaluated by the Rico-West Dolores Travel Management Plan. It is currently open to single-track motorcycle use, but that could change.
Grant funding to fix it was applied for from the motorized Colorado Trail Program, but the application was pulled Padilla said, because the trail’s authorized uses are still up in the air.
“We did not want to have that argument,” he said. “Using a motorized grant was seen as pre-decisional by non-motorized” advocates commenting on the travel management plan.
The four-mile closed section of the trail begins at the northern trailhead off of FS Road 471. The Calico Trail extends for dozens of miles to the southern trailhead at Priest Gulch. The rest of the trail is open and can be accessed from multiple side trails and roads.