But it doesn’t happen automatically. The Forest Service has limited budgets to reconnoiter trails, let alone repair them, cut and remove fallen trees, build steps, shore up banks, or clear debris from landslides, avalanches or other obstacles. That’s where the Ouray Trail Group volunteers come in.
This year’s line-up for the OTG consists of: president: Roger Smith, vice president: Steve Caldwell, secretary: Laurie Bunten (who also manages the wonderful website Ouraytrails.org and is in charge of Outreach), treasurer: Dennis Moyer, Adopt-A-Trail: Charlie Berger, trail work coordinator: Phil Wolkin, publications and distribution: Karen Risch, special projects: Henry Hooper, Nordic Ski Council: Lyn Meinert, U.S. Forest Service liaison: Walt Rule, Public Lands Partnership: Mick Graff. In addition, our two Forest Service representatives are Ken Straley and Kris Wist. Overall, their volunteer hours run into the thousands.
In addition to local hiking books, the Trail Group’s 11th edition of the trail map, titled Hiking Trails of Ouray County, is available at many outlets in Ouray and Ridgway, as is the very useful 2nd edition of the small hiking book Hiking Ouray With Kids – and Everyone Else, by Karen Risch.
Although there may still be a few downed trees and lingering mounds of snow further up, particularly on the north and east facing slopes, the following trails are ready and hikeable:
Ouray Perimeter Trail, Ice Park Loop, Corbett Creek/Dallas Trail (up to below the Aspens), Portland Mine, Sutton (to the large avalanche between the two creeks), Lower and Upper Cascade Falls (to the top ledge, then a little snow to the creek and Chief Ouray Mine), Twin Peaks and Oak Creek (to the junction), Old Twin Peaks (although steep and needing work lower down and at a major tree obstacle near the top), Silvershield, Baldy (to the summit), Storm’s Gulch, Alpine Mine Overlook (to the junction until you encounter snow), Dexter Creek (for one and one-half miles), and Bear Creek (to half a mile past Grizzly Bear Mine).
The Trail Group has completed work in the Amphitheater and will have several more trails cleared in the next two weeks, probably allowing access to 10,500 feet or higher.
Volunteers are always needed. Each year, as more trails are opened, there is more mileage to cover and constant maintenance, clearing fallen trees and landslides, putting up new signs, repairing sign-in boxes and updating signs. Although a faithful group of men and women tirelessly offer their time and resources, more are needed. There are many tasks of differing complexity, physical ability and time. Please consider helping out, either regularly or on an occasional basis. The contact for this is Phil Wolkin at 325-4368 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Trail volunteers usually meet on Mondays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. at the Powder House just below the bridge on the Camp Bird Mine road.
Also, please remember to sign in at the sign in boxes. These numbers are most helpful and relevant to both the Forest Service and to the Trail Group in assessing future needs. Each individual trail has an Adopt-A Trail person who “caretakes” the trail. More are needed. Please contact Charlie Berger at 325-9816 or email@example.com if you would like to help.
So get out, enjoy and think about how good you’ll feel if you not only take back all your own trash, but condescend to pick up after others who somehow forgot theirs.
For current information go to www.Ouraytrails.org.