2020 Trinidad State News

Trailbuilding classes at Trinidad State will support new Fisher’s Peak State Park

Trinidad Campus / July 28, 2020 / By Greg Boyce

Trinidad State photo While the new Fisher’s Peak State Park southeast of Trinidad is not yet open, planning has already begun on the first trail. It will be a seven to eight mile loop with a trail head accessible from Exit 11 on the east side of I-25.

Tony Boone of Timberline TrailCraft in Salida spent four days in the park recently scoping out the route. “It’s about five miles of proposed new trail to connect to existing ranch roads,” said Boone. “This first loop has some incredible views of Fisher’s Peak.”

Boone lives in Salida and is secretary of the Professional Trail Builders Association, a growing world-wide group that focuses on sustainable outdoor recreation. And he’s an outspoken cheerleader for the outdoor recreation industry, which he says employs 500,000 people in Colorado.

He will also soon be an instructor at Trinidad State Junior College. Trinidad State has scheduled four trail building classes this fall in hopes of providing a career path for those interested in an outdoor oriented career. “These classes are geared toward a technical trail career,” said Boone, “designing and building and managing natural surface trail systems.”

Each class is a week long and will be taught mostly outdoors. The first, Intro to Trails will run all day from September 14 to 18. It will focus on the ways trails impact the land and ecology, basic geography and map reading, types of trails and sustainability. It will be worth two college credit hours. Trinidad State photo

The following week Intro to Trail Maintenance will be offered. Instruction will include how to evaluate the condition of a trail, safety, maintenance plans and procedures.

Then from October 12 through 16, Boone will teach Planning Sustainable Trails. Students will learn route planning, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), environmental impact considerations and design constraints.

The last of the classes is Designing Sustainable Trails. It will be offered the week of October 20. Topics will include risk management, slopes, water control, trail standards and basic surveying.

Boone says eventually there will be a trail to the top of Fisher’s Peak, but it won’t be an easy stroll. Boone expects that it will be 15 miles long and as challenging as hiking a 14,000 foot peak in a day. In fact, he says, there’s not a lot of opportunity for easy hiking at Fisher’s Peak. There are scores of canyons that are hundreds of feet deep.

The sprawling property connects grasslands to the east with foothills and mountains to the west. This will be Colorado’s second largest state park, covering a whopping 30 square miles! Fisher’s Peak, at 9,633 feet, is the highest mountain in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. Developing the park with parking lots, bathrooms, trails and other infrastructure is a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and Great Outdoors Colorado.

Students should expect very little classroom time. Instead, most of the training will happen outdoors. “It’s naturally easy for us to socially distance and obviously we’re in a lot of fresh air and sunshine,” said Boone. In short, these classes cannot happen online. “I think the folks who would have some interest in trail building in general would have some level of comfort knowing that the classes are held primarily outdoors.”

More advanced trail building classes will be offered in the future.

“The people who will want to take these classes are primarily those who want to become a professional trail builder. That would be someone who wants to work seasonally or even year ‘round on a professional trail building crew,” said Boone. “I also think these students might want to go and work for a conservation organization.”

To sign up for one or more of these classes or for more information contact Donna at 719 846-5724 or visit trinidadstate.edu/schedule.

Photos by Tony Boone

Trinidad State photo

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