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by Cory Sutela, President,
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates

Tim Wolken from El Paso County (EPC) Parks convened a meeting at Bear Creek Regional Park on Nov 28.  The meeting was set up so that EPC Parks could explain its plan regarding Jones Park and other EPC properties, and also for EPC Parks to receive feedback on MTB trail philosophy from users of their trails.  MWTA was on hand to listen and provide feedback.

Tim and other Parks staff members shared their goals with the work that was done this summer and planned for 2017, including reroute of 667.

  1. Comply with the NEPA process to address the Greenback Cutthroat Trout (GBCT) issue
  2. Create a trail that is appropriate for MTB riders, hikers, equestrians and motocycle riders
  3. Ensure that the trail is safe for all users
  4. Minimize the need for ongoing trail maintenance (especially due to the remoteness of the area)
  5. Provide enjoyable recreational features for all uses

Mr. Wolken was clear in pointing out that there was never a stated goal to make a MTB trail with the same character as the trail that was being closed.

Mr. Wolken was clear in pointing out that there was never a stated goal to make a MTB trail with the same character as the trail that was being closed.  It’s  MWTA’s observation that acknowledgement of point #5 is a big step forward – our view is that this wasn’t really a consideration with the reroute of 720 & 701.

Another important announcement was EPC’s intention to hold onsite meetings with the trail construction contractors (which will once again be Trails Unlimited)  AND user groups prior to starting work on Mt Kineo in 2017.  Again, this step was missed with last year’s construction, and so MWTA is very pleased that users will have a voice on this moving forward

Mr. Wolken asked everyone to remember that the trail that was constructed in 2016 was roughed in at 48” or wider in places, but it’s expected to narrow into 24-36” which is appropriate for a county multi use trail – he suggested that we give the new trail a try.  At the same time, the county recognizes that the riding experience has changed, and Mr. Wolken stated the county’s intention to hold a master plan process to explore the possibility of creating another trail in Jones Park (obviously it can’t negatively impact the GBCT).  On this point many questions were raised about the allowed uses on this trail (MTB only?  Single direction?  All users?).  MWTA agrees with the county that the use of the trail can’t be specified before going through the master plan process – but as a general approach, we usually favor trails that are open to all users unless specific conditions suggest otherwise.

There were some questions about whether the objective of protecting the GBCT could be met with less expensive and less intrusive options (modifying the existing trail for example), and whether the historic 667 trail can legally be closed.  EPC’s position is that Jones Park was deeded to them on the condition that 667 be decommissioned & rerouted, and therefore that is the direction they are going.  

Mr. Wolken also shared some details about other MTB opportunities, both existing and upcoming, on EPC land:  Bear Creek regional park, the Pineries, and planned trail work in Black Forest (MWTA will be present at the master plan meetings for Black Forest).  Additionally there are plans to create trails similar in character to the Bankers Lunch Loops, in cooperation with Urban SingleTrack, along the Fountain Creek Regional Trail.

Then the group was asked for input on ‘what makes a good MTB trail’.  Here are some of the responses, including MWTA’s thoughts

A sustainable trail protects the environment, meets the needs of users, requires little maintenance and minimizes conflicts between users.

  • Provides unique connections with somewhere interesting to go.
  • Rolling grade reversals to control water (not water bars)
  • Stacked loops for options
  • Natural obstacles & riding features
  • Jumps & drops
  • Scenery, including in Jones Park, a ‘backcountry character’
  • Variety of interaction with nature – close in trees, wide open fields, interesting control points
  • Variety of difficulties including very fast and challenging sections
  • Long sight lines with smooth swoopy turns allowing dynamic movements and jumps
  • Narrow trail – as narrow as possible, 6” is fun
  • Steep and rocky tread.  Technical obstacles that require skill & practice to master.  If you can’t ride it the first time, it’s OK to walk it until your skill matches the trail
  • Tight and twisty turns force users to slow down to maintain control – this benefits all users
  • Proper signage explaining expectations for the trails is important

In case you want to provide feedback to Mr. Wolken directly, here is is contact information.  As always, please keep your conversations constructive and cordial – the staff at EPC work hard to meet the needs of a wide variety of citizens in the county and they deserve our thanks and respect.

Tim Wolken, Director
Community Services Department
El Paso County, Colorado
2002 Creek Crossing
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80905

timwolken@elpasoco.com