Wednesday, October 23, 2019

USFS receives funding for continued Double Top trail work

Two jobs on tap this summer and a classic set for next

by Than Acuff

Double Top, aka Double Up No Down, has been the Holy Grail of suffering among the local mountain bike trails. You ride that thing from start to finish and you’ve been in through the out door, on a couple of occasions.

Well, maybe not so much now as people are going farther and farther… and even farther the past several years in a constant unspoken contest of who can do more in a day.

Nevertheless, it’s also a popular stop for local and visiting motorcycle riders and, as a result, the trail has received a serious beat-down, meaning deep ruts and several sections of braided trail as riders make their own path again and again to avoid the ruts.

Over the past several years the Forest Service has been chipping away at fixing Double Top to bring the trail back to its original rideable glory.

“We’ve been working to whittle away at Double Top for a lot of years,” says trails manager for the Gunnison Ranger District Greg Austin.

The Gunnison Ranger District has acquired nearly $2.8 million in funding since the state OHV Grant Program began in 1995. Some notable projects include the Teocalli Ridge trail reconstruction project and the Deadman Trail Bridge over Cement Creek.

This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, through their OHV grant program, awarded the Forest Service $49,000 to fund additional work on Double Top, slated to start in the 2020 summer and continue into the summer of 2021.

In their grant application, the Forest Service mentioned one section in particular that they hope to attack.

“This grant request proposes to realign and reconstruct a middle segment of the Double Top Trail #405 between trails #405.2A and 405.3A. If possible additional work will occur farther to the northeast of trail 405.3A along more of Double Top trail #405,” states the application. “Re-alignments and reconstruction will create variety on the trail and will improve user experience. This will be an improvement to the trail particularly as motorcycle riders and other users currently travel straight up or down long slopes for prolonged periods with little variety in user experience. These fall line sections are also experiencing natural resource impacts that are unacceptable.”

“We don’t have it dialed in exactly,” adds Austin. “Part of it is to construct three-quarters of a mile of new trail to abandon some of the chaos and restore all of the braids.”

Given the location of the work, Austin and the Forest Service will be calling on their trail work crew to spend all of their time up there rather than making it in and out of the area on a daily basis.

“Trail crews will be camped out there,” says Austin. “Commuting is not going to work on that one.”

But that’s not all. In the meantime, Forest Service trail crews will be spending this summer working on the Ohio Creek side of the Carbon Trail as well as the Italian Connector trail up the Spring Creek drainage. Austin emphasizes that patience is key both in trail work and in trail use.

“In 2019 the Carbon Grant will be completed and we will begin the Italian Connector grant funded project. The Double Top Grant will begin in 2020,” says Austin. “We can’t do it all at once, you can only manage so much personnel. When you try to do a lot in a short timeframe, it’s hard to do a good job. We emphasize quality over quantity.”

He also touts the work of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA), which allows the Forest Service to shift their efforts accordingly.

“Thanks to organizations like CBMBA, we can focus on the heavier projects throughout the district,” says Austin.

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