While 250 acres of the new Fisher’s Peak State Park southeast of Trinidad are now open, the picnic area and .75 mile trail are just a hint of what’s ahead. Planning has already begun on the first long 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. It will also be an outdoor lab for Trinidad State trail building students.

Tony Boone of Timberline Trailcraft in Colorado Springs spent four days in the park last fall scoping out the new 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 chair of the higher education committee 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 College. Trinidad State has scheduled four trail building classes this spring 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 include field work at Fisher’s Peak State Park. The first, Intro to Trails will run all day from April 12 through 16. 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.

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 May 10 through 14, Boone will teach Planning Sustainable Trails. Students will learn route planning, environmental impact considerations and design constraints.

The last of the classes is Designing Sustainable Trails. It will be offered the week of May 17. Topics will include risk management, slopes, water control, trail standards and basic surveying.

Earlier this year Trinidad residents donated $14,000 to the program, to be used for scholarships. Students who sign up for all four classes will receive priority consideration for these scholarship funds and may be eligible for up to $1,500 in scholarship support with preference given to students from Las Animas County. Students taking fewer than four classes may be eligible for reduced scholarship support. All scholarship awards will be based on the number of applicants and availability of funds. 

Part of the money was donated by Tim and Jean Crisler, tireless supporters of new trails in the area. “There are so many trails that are waiting to be built and this is a really unique program,” said Jean Crisler. “It’s also a really nice thing for the college to have. I think it will draw a lot of interesting and lovely people to town. Trails need to be safe and take into account the environment and animals and nature. It also gives us a great place to enjoy that personally. When our community builds the trails then there’s ownership in that too, and then we all feel like they’re our trails.”

 Part time Trinidad resident Kayvan Khalatbari also donated. “For what’s coming in this town, I think it’s really important to keep young people here, keep them excited about new industries, things that a lot of other colleges aren’t doing across the country.” Khalatbari plans to move from Denver to Trinidad permanently. “I’m just excited to be a part of its evolution and growth. This college is such an institution. It needs to be strong, it needs to have people support it and we need to give our young folks a reason to stick around the town."

“Community involvement is the key to making a program like this work,” said Trinidad State President Dr. Rhonda M. Epper. “We’re so grateful to have champions like Kayvan Khalatbari and the Crislers who are excited and committed to recreation and education.”

Much 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.

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 Haddow at 719 846-5724 or visit trinidadstate.edu/trailbuilding.