Trail Standards Needed

How can you manage what you haven’t studied?

At the last meeting of the Task Force assigned to work on trail safety and use issues, the idea of using objective criteria to measure a trail’s potential for multiple use was brought up by Kalon Kelley. Mr. Kelley’s presentation was on behalf of CRAHTAC, the County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee.

Specifically, he used two trails as examples of ones that might or might not be acceptable for multiple use: the Romero Single Track (formerly a dirt jeepway leading to the mountain crest; and Cold Springs Canyon Trail. “Romero might be considered a perfect example for multiple use,” Kalon told the task force due to its wide trail bed, long lines of sight and gradual grade. “On the other hand, Cold Springs is problematic for multiple use,” he continued. “There are blind corners, steep dropoffs, and narrow tread in many of these places, making it difficult for users to pass one another.”

What he was pointing out was the need for clearly established (and as objective as possible) guidelines for measuring multiple use. Not a novel idea but not one that has received much attention thus far in the six months the Task Force has been meeting.

Perhaps the Task Force might consider making a comprehensive study of the front country trails a top priority. Having the information needed to make good decisions about who uses the front country trails, when and under what conditions is essential.

Suggested topics for such a study might include:

  • Trail Studies-to provide accurate information about each trail.
  • Development of Guidelines-that can be used to gauge the suitability for multiple use.
  • Trail Use Studies-to have an understanding of who uses the trails, in what numbers and when.
  • Trail Surveys-to get firsthand information from users, not anecdotal information from those who attend the Task Force meetings.
  • Overall Management Goals-to develop an understanding of how our trails are managed, what each trail user group can expect from them and what we expect from those who use them.

More on each of these in future columns.

Walk the Walk

One of those who has been attending the Task Force meetings regularly, asked me, “Have any of the commissioners been out on any of the front country trails recently?” Good point: it’s easy to talk the talk; but have they walked the walk?

Perhaps before the meetings continue too much further, the commissioners might set aside a day to walk one of these trails: to gain firsthand experience of what the trails are like; as a source for comparing what users say at the meetings versus what things are like out on the trails; but mostly to get to know the trails on which they will be making critical management decisions.

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