Bear Creek Trail Closure Proposals

March 25th, 2014

Jones Park

A few weeks ago the Forest Service had an open house about proposed trail closures due to the greenback cutthroat trout in Bear Creek. I’m not convinced they’ve studied the impacts of the trail well enough to say they’re a problem but because of settling a lawsuit with environmental groups it probably doesn’t matter what the impact is. The US Fish and Wildlife Service must approve any trail work in the Bear Creek drainage including current trail maintenance.

At the open house, 3 alternatives were shown. Alternative A is the current trail system and we know that there’s very little chance the trails will remain the same in the future. Alternatives B and C have various trail closures and re-routes.

Both new alternatives would still allow the “Missing Link” trail to be created to link Barr Trail to the Jones Park area but would make it longer because of going around Jones Park and I believe add an uphill section. Also with both proposals, High Drive would be closed to vehicle traffic but would be open to non-motorized use.

Alternative B has all of Jones Park off limits and the upper part of Bear Creek Trail (666) closed. A trail re-route from Pipeline would keep Captain Jacks away from Bear Creek and connect where Captain Jacks currently drops down from the ridge to the creek and intersects with 666. A connector would be created from Buckhorn over to 666 near Josephine Falls.

I believe Alternative C is the same as Alternative B except that all of Bear Creek Trail (666) would be closed. I don’t think you’ll find it surprising that I don’t like this plan.

One part of “Alternative B” that I’m not sure is necessary is the complete closure of Jones Park at least to non-motorized use as that area is flatter and doesn’t have nearly the erosion issues of lower on Cap’n Jacks. Most of Jones Park is Colorado Springs Utilities land and I don’t think they want to make sure they have no risk with the greenback cutthroat trout.

One effect of closing Jones Park is access to Mt. Arthur and Mt. Garfield will be more difficult. It would be nice if a trail could be built from the Section 16 area to allow more access into that area. Also there are ruins of historic buildings in the Jones Park area that would be off limits.

It’s not clear how long it will be before the whatever plan is approved will be implemented. The US Fish and Wildlife Service have until late summer to approve the plan the Forest Service submits to them.

I talked to Forest Ranger Allan Hahn at the meeting last month about how soon trail re-routes could be done after a plan was approved. Although the Forest Service doesn’t have money for the changes, he believes the plan could be implemented in a matter of weeks since so many people are willing to volunteer to get access to the area. I’m not optimistic that with all the government red tape that volunteers would be turned loose to get the re-routes done that quickly.

Now it’s time to move forward and get the best possible trails under the circumstances. Input on the proposals can be sent to the Forest Service by emailing bcc@fs.fed.us, faxing (719) 477-4233 or mailing. Comments must be received by March 27th, 2014. One thing a found from talking to the Forest Service is they don’t understand very well how people use the trails and that it would be helpful to them to know more.

The Gazette did an article that includes some of history of the Bear Creek area. Someone who is fighting against any closures also has history on the area with historic photos. At this point, I don’t believe fighting the changes is productive but the page has some interesting information.

Below is the letter the the Peak Mtb Collective has been asking people to sign at the informational meetings they’ve held. Use it as is or as a starting point for your feedback to the Forest Service. Also go to the Peak Mtb Collective page and sign up for email updates on the Bear Creek drainage trails and other Colorado Springs area trail issues.

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Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
719-477-4233
bcc@fs.fed.us

In reviewing the proposed changes to travel management and recreational activities and the improvement actions for the stream habitat in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project (BCWRP) area, I understand that the project’s purpose is to protect the greenback cutthroat trout as well as to maintain a balance among the many trail user groups. The area in question has a well-established, recognized trail system that is important to the outdoor lifestyle for which the Pikes Peak region is known.

As an avid user of the Bear Creek area and Pikes Peak region trail systems, I am aware of the important balance we share with our eco-system. I have read full through the proposed BCWRP proposals and I support “Alternative B” as the action plan for implementation by the Pikes Peak Ranger District. I believe “Alternative B” supports the objective of protecting the greenback cutthroat trout as well as offering a balance between access and use of this vast trail system.

Acknowledging that change is needed in the area, “Alternative A” offers little compromise regarding the ecological concerns of the project. “Alternative C” offers limited compromise by significantly limiting trail access including the complete closure of trail 666. I believe either of these plans hinders involved groups’ respective goals and could have negative long term effects.

I want to thank everyone involved in the project and look forward to seeing “Alternative B” move forward. I also extend myself as a resource in the implementation of “Alternative B” in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

2014 Leadville Mountain Bike Race Series

January 17th, 2014

Leadville Winter Fat Bike Series 2014

Fat bikes have become the rage in the last couple years. They’re perfect for riding in the snow and a snow race series begins in the Leadville area tomorrow. There will be 4 races in the Leadville winter MTB series this year.

The first is tomorrow, Saturday, January 18th, at Copper Mountain’s WinterBike race. Registration starts at 4pm and will be located across from the Ice Rink and Zip Line in Center Village. The race begins at 6 pm. Fireworks at 7pm. There will also be a kids race that begins at 5pm.

There will be demo bikes available before the race. You can check out your new bike from REEB, Borealis Bikes, Boo Bikes, and Twenty2.

The series is a great way to try out snow racing if you don’t live too far away to see if you want a bigger snow adventure like the Susitna 100, Arrowhead 135 or Iditarod Invitational.

Although snow racing is best on a fat bike like the Borealis Bikes Yampa that has clearance for giant tires, you can do it on a regular mountain bike. You just put as wide of tires as will fit on your frame and run low air pressure.

2014 Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series Schedule

  • January 18 – WinterBike at Copper
  • February 8 – Tennessee Pass Night Jam
  • March 1 – Mineral Belt Mayhem
  • April 12 – East Side Epic

Chris had a good writeup of the East Side Epic a few years ago.

Get the latest info on the Cloud City Wheelers Event Page or the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Series Facebook page.

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Friends of Ute Valley Park

April 19th, 2013

Ute Valley Park

I live close to Ute Valley Park. It’s a beautiful 338 acre open space surrounded by neighborhoods but it’s easy to feel like you’re outside the city. I’ve been mountain biking in it for years and now that I live close I hike in it with my family.

Ute Valley is a popular with hikers, runners and mountain bikers. It has become more heavily used since the Waldo Canyon Fire closed Mountain Shadows Open Space and Blodgett Peak Open Space.

Most people don’t know that about the eastern half of the area is not part of the park but is owned by HP. There are a few No Trespassing signs near trails at the HP property boundary but people have freely used trails on HP property. Last summer’s Pro XCT in Ute Valley Park course included trails on the HP property.

Concerns about the HP property being developed and the increase in social trails prompted the creation of the Friends of Ute Valley Park (FUVP) last fall. Ute Valley has been the last Colorado Springs open space without a friends group.

Friends of Ute Valley Park Earth Day FlyerI’ve been working on the Friends of Ute Valley Park website the last couple months. I still have plenty to do on it but we’re using it post new on the park. We also have a FUVP Facebook page.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 20th, there will be an Earth Day event at the Ute Valley Park parking lot on Vindicator 9-11 AM. The park ranger, Friends of Ute Valley Park and Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates will be there with information. There will also be a brief maintenance project and park clean up. Please come out and join us.


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Trails Around Jones Park Could be Closed

April 4th, 2013

Jones Park Above Colorado Springs

Last year it was determined that the 750 greenback cutthroat trout living in Bear Creek near Jones park are the only genetically pure greenback cutthroat left. The US Forest Service was sued by environmental groups for not sufficiently protected these fish. Last fall Bear Creek Trail (666) and Captain Jacks Trail (667) were closed to dirt bikes and camping was prohibited in the area.

I’ve been hiking and riding these trails for over 25 years. Here’s a Jones Park ride report from a couple years ago. The Ring the Peak mountain bike race also uses these trails.

Now the Forest Service is proposing closing 3.5 miles of trail along Bear Creek to all users. While I’m for protecting the fish and agree there’s still erosion problems in spite of all the work the dirt bike groups have done, I have trouble believing closing the trails is necessary.

It seems strange that such a heavily used area is the only place that the fish have survived. Since they have survived, why is it necessary to close the trails? It seems that rerouting the trail in places and adding more erosion control should be sufficient.

The USFS has a webpage with a several detailed documents on the assessment process. The detailed trail assessment includes a map of the affected trails.

The proposal has some possible trail reroutes and at least one would allow connection to the proposed Missing Link Trail which would be really cool to have completed. The information on these possible reroutes start on page 74 of the trail assessment document. Medicine Wheel has some good comments on the proposals.

Tonight, Thursday March 4th, there will be an Open House from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center (1521 Hancock Expressway, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903).

If you can’t make the open house, you can provide comments through April 30th, 2013 by mail, fax, or email to:

Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 477-4233 fax
bcc@fs.fed.us

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Last Day to Register for 2013 Leadville 100 Lottery

January 31st, 2013

Powerline Leadville 100

Powerline Climb

Today, January 31st, is the last day to register for the 2013 Leadville 100 lottery for your chance to dig deep going up Powerline and on the rest of the course on August 10th. You have until midnight MST but if you plan on registering and haven’t, I’d suggest you do it as soon as possible just in case you have issues with registering. Head over to this page to register.

As has been the case for the last several years, there’s a $15 charge plus fees just to sign up for the lottery. This fee gets donated to charity though. Also the entry fee if you get picked in the lottery has gone up yet again. It’s now up to $345.

Although the Leadville 100 lottery used to be the only the only way to get into the Leadville 100, now there are the qualifiers to get a slot. There are also various charity slots that can be used to gain a Leadville 100 entry.

Good luck to everybody that is in the lottery! I’ve entered the lottery again in hopes of making my 10th start. Since I had a streak of 3 DNFs, I’ll be going for finish number 7.

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Global Fat Bike Day

November 30th, 2012

Fat Bikes in Colorado Springs

Photo Courtesy of Allen Beauchamp


Fat-bikes.com has declared tomorrow, December 1st as Global Fat Bike Day. They’ll be having a get together in Wisconsin. Right here in Colorado Springs, we’re going to have our own fat bike fun. Pedal of Littleton is having a fat bike event up there too.

You may not heard of fat bikes but they’re gaining popularity. Fat bikes are mountain bikes with extra wide tires that were created for riding in snow. The tires can be twice as wide as a regular mountain bike tire. They also work well in sand.

Racers for the Iditarod Trail Invitational would weld 2 rims together to get enough flotation in the snow. Then the Surly Pugsley was created and better wheels and tires came along. Now the Salsa Mukluk and Surly Moonlander are popular fat bikes.

Tomorrow’s event here in Colorado Springs is in Sand Creek near Platte Avenue. The Hub bike shop and the Surly rep will be on hand with some demo bikes including Moonlanders. For more details on the fat bike demo, see the event page on Facebook.

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Input on Biking Pikes Peak

November 7th, 2012

Pikes Peak Summit by Bike

Cyclists got a chance to bike the Pikes Peak Highway during September. I took advantage of it and rode from my house to the top of Pikes Peak and then down Barr Trail. I know lots of people who also rode. The’s no reason for it to not be open all the time the Pikes Peak Highway is.

The Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is taking input on allowing bikes on the Pikes Peak road in the future at their meeting tomorrow, November 8th. The meeting starts at 7:30 AM. Bikes on Pikes Peak is fairly far down on the agenda so if you can’t arrive until a little after 8 you should be there in time and give input. The meeting is at parks headquarters, 1401 Recreation Way.

Hope to see you there! You can check out my Pikes Peak photos and ride report here.

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Ring the Peak Race 2012 Photos

October 7th, 2012

Ring the Peak Race 2012

Ring the Peak started and ended frosty with icy drizzle as we started. It was chilly but pretty nice in between with even some blue skies and sun. I had asthma issues the second half and had to keep stopping to warm my fingers from Elk Park down to Pipeline. I had frost on my eyelashes and my bottle froze on the decent. It wasn’t as cold from Pipeline down but still plenty cold. I was 1:25 faster than last year with 10:50. I was still slow but headed in the right direction.

Here’s a few photos until I get a chance to write up more on the race.

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Palmer Park Pro Cycling Classic

September 21st, 2012

Palmer Park Sand Creek Series Race

The next few weekends are busy with local mountain bike racing as we transition from summer into fall. This Sunday is the Pro Cycling Classic in Palmer Park. It was originally scheduled for July 1st but had to be rescheduled because of park closures due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. Pre-registration through Pre-Race.com ends tonight, September 21st. There is also race day registration for an extra fee.

Race distances will be typical cross-country lengths. If I’m reading the course map right, it uses a similar course to the 2 Sand Creek Series races this summer but in reverse. I really like riding and racing in Palmer Park there but think I’ll ride up the Pikes Peak Highway that day instead.

There will be a pizza lunch and the number of pizzas ordered will be based on the pre-registration numbers so Andy would like everyone to pre-register. Donations collected for the pizza lunch will go to Kids on Bikes so take some cash. There will be a kids fun race at 12:15 that is free.

Go to SandCreekSports.com for all the Pro Cycling Classic details.

Next weekend, September 29 & 30, is 24 Hour National Mountain Bike Championships also in Palmer Park. Registration for the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs ends this Sunday.

Then coming up on October 6th is the Ring the Peaks Race. This race is a tough 70ish mile ride around Pikes Peak on Ring the Peak Trail. There’s no entry fee and no support.

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Red Rocks, Section 16 and White Acres Trails

September 11th, 2012

Red Rocks Open Space

The next Master Plan meeting for Red Rocks Open Space, Section 16 and White Acres is tonight at 6:30. It is being held at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St. The focus of tonight’s meeting is trails.

Info on trails in the areas and other information on the Master Plan process is posted on the Colorado Springs website. The schedule of future meetings for those open spaces is also posted there.

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