Slowly but surely, a message about the progress of a new trail up Pikes Peak.
Rocky Mountain Field Institute staff and youth crews camped behind the 14,115-foot mountain for the fourth season of building a trail to the summit to replace the eroded Devil’s Playground Trail. After his two years battling the complications of COVID-19, the project leader said staffing has been a challenge this summer.
Carl Woody, interim director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, said: He called the workers available within the institute and those with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps under contract “inconsistent,” and said days and weeks were missing.
The team cut about 2 miles of trail out of the planned total of 4 miles into the season. Although this season has been less chiseled, Woody said the focus is on other goals.
Mileage is “a big metric that everyone wants to see,” he said. “But all that work was wasted when you cut the tread and didn’t put the structure in place to make sure it lasted.”
The focus was to “harden” the trail against erosion. We built retaining walls and stepped out of natural rocks and timber. Still, Woody recognized that his original goal had not been met. (He joined Rocky Mountain Field his institute in 2020, a year after the project began.)
“I think the initial goals were very ambitious, and I appreciate that,” he said. “But my initial goal was to run 1.6km every season, and I’m clearly not at that point.”
This project relies on state trail grants. Papers have been filed with Colorado Parks and Wildlife seeking three more years of funding, which Woody said was “important” to the project.
Asked if the job could be done in three years, Woody replied, “I think we’re really close. ‘It’s really hard to predict the future.'”