Spoke Talk: Big changes on Buff Pass
September 6, 2016
By the time you are reading this, Routt National Forest on Buffalo Pass will have started to change. Routt County Riders and land managers have been listening to both praise and concerns surrounding the Buffalo Pass trails project through the past four-plus years. The change that will unfold through the next couple years will have a positive impact on the environment and the trail experience by focusing on two things: sustainability and diversity.
Environmental damage from sections of the existing user-created trails that did not consider sustainability is clearly visible. Deep ruts exist on fall line sections of trail located on soils and loose rock. Those sections are going to change.
Fortunately the terrain in the Buffalo Pass area is full of interesting rock features. Relocating the experience of the steep fall line trail from the soils to the rock slabs or adding rock armoring maintains or increases much of the technical trail experience many agree Steamboat is lacking, while creating the sustainability required on public land.
The trail crew from Routt County Riders Trail Builders division is working closely with land managers in the field to add optional technical ride lines that only advanced and technically sound riders will attempt. When you ride some of these trails for the first time, please be prepared to stop and potentially walk some of the advanced features.
Not everyone is going to enjoy every trail all the time, and that's a good thing. One of the goals with the Buffalo Pass trails project is to create a diverse, interconnected trail system.
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The reasons people use trails vary greatly, and the trails need to have that same variety. That same trail diversity across Steamboat is important, too. The terrain on Emerald lends to smooth, flowy trails. There is no need to try to replicate that same template on Buffalo Pass. Buffalo Pass will have some smooth trails, but not in the same ratio as Emerald.
As part of the public, you can influence future trail projects in the following ways.
Become involved with Routt County Riders and attend public meetings held by land managers.
Continue to support the city-led 2A Trails Committee that recommends funding the approval process and construction of trails projects with the portion of the accommodations tax dedicated to trails.
Contribute to the newly formed Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund, managed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. By contributing to the TMEF, you are supporting an enduring funding source for trail maintenance. This is currently the most critical step to not only ensure our Steamboat Springs trail network is maintained, but also to help justify an expanded, diversified and sustainable trail network. Learn more and donate at yvcf.org/trails/.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling. If you want to help or would like more information, contact us at facebook.com/rcriders, routtcountyriders.org or email email@example.com.
Eric Meyer is a Routt County Riders board member and volunteer.