Aspen Alley Reroute

The Project

The Aspen Alley re-route was part of a BMA project on US Forest Service land in the West Magnolia-area near Nederland, where work on the ground started in the fall of 2017. USFS and BMA formed a partnership and BMA secured a grant to fund the project using professionals, volunteers and youth corps. This project blends hand-built and mechanized construction techniques. At completion, it will establish a continuous singletrack (mostly lined with aspen) from the Peak-to-Peak Trailhead all the way to the Lookout Trail that was recently remodeled by the Nederland Area Trails Organization (NATO) and Teens Inc. The initial build took 6 weeks to complete, ending October 13, 2017.

History

An 2012, a portion of the Aspen Alley trail was used as a skid-route by bulldozers and heavy equipment during a Forest service fuels reduction wildfire mitigation project. The logging contractor was required to return it to "trail condition," but that work was inadequate, resulting in a 15-20' wide road, scattered with slash and "tread in the middle that was quickly eroding into a ditch." Routes with erosion tend to braid and quickly lose the characteristics of singletrack.
Here's a pic from 2013 after the clear cutting, the crazy line down the middle of the trail shows the damage caused drainage/erosion, and a picture of what it looks like during the wet/melt season.

Current

The current project converted the road to a true trail and partially recontouring the roadbed to better mimic natural drainage, encourage revegetation, and speed aspen regrowth. Locally adapted native seed and vegetative matter is was saved for use after the earthwork was complete, and was re-distributed to help native species reestablish and reduce invasive weeds.
The trail is designed to use the undulating landform to yield a serpentine trail through aspen regrowth that will be stable and not continue to erode. As a trail in the "front-country" portion of West Mag, it also includes playful, optional, earthen features for cyclists; these have been thoughtfully designed to consider sight lines, two-way travel, risk management, and ... fun.

Machine Building

Why machine built for this section? Because it was the right tool for the job. When you have to move tons of dirt, sometimes you need to bust out the big guns. It takes an intensive project and mechanized equipment to address previous damage from the intense use of a full-sized bulldozer during the fuels reduction project.
Naturally, this project will look like a construction site initially – it is one – but the trail will become serpentine singletrack lined with aspen over the next few seasons. Essentially well-designed trails like this tend to grow narrower rather than widen and braid due to erosion.

The End Result

Here's a pic of what has been built so far so you can get a feel for intent. The machine built section will take a couple seasons to get to this level as the aspens grow back in, but this is the idea:

Aspen Alley Progression Pictures

Update May 2018

It's mud season! After the late season snows, things are starting to dry out. Aspen Alley is muddier than some of the trails in West Mag, and here's why:
– Aspen Alley was built late in the 2017 season and didn't have a lot of time to harden and cure before the winter. Newly churned dirt is more absorbent than undisturbed, hard pack ground. And a lot of dirt was moved to correct the logging road. It's going to take a season or two to pack down and become more water resistant.

– The surrounding area is naturally wetter, that's why the aspen grove is there in the first place. Aspens love wet areas. The trail was designed to redirect water ACROSS the trail instead of DOWN the trail but still keep the aspen moist and happy. Don't expect this to be a wet-weather trail, please give it time to dry out after snow and rain.

– We also are looking at it as the water runs off to see if we can make any adjustments to make it better. It's about 20% wet/mud right now in peak melt season, so we want to see if we can make that better.