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Mountain Trails makes changes

As you may have noticed riding or hiking around Park City in recent weeks, the Mountain Trails Foundation (MTF) has some changes in store for this summer season.

Heavy precipitation in late spring delayed the trail maintenance season by about three weeks, estimated MTF executive director Charlie Sturgis. But crews provided by MTF, Park City Municipal and Summit County have been busy ever since, starting at lower elevations and working their way up.

"The hardest thing is trying to stay ahead of the public’s expectations," Sturgis said. "Just about the time the trails are rideable is when we’re ready to move in."

Fluctuating conditions also make early-season work more difficult, since trails can go from wet to dry in as little as 10 days. "It’s a pretty small window to work with," he said.

New projects for 2010 include a hand-cut trail off Rambler in Round Valley that will present a more technical, old-fashioned challenge for cyclists. Work on hand-cut trails is tedious and involves shovels and rakes. Sturgis said they are trying to meet the call for fewer machine-made trails, even if their efficiency is largely responsible for the trail system’s growth from 14 miles in 1992 to more than 350 now.

Another change comes on the Mid-Mountain Trail, which has been rerouted at Iron Mountain for construction purposes. The rerouting has made the trail longer and more technical, Sturgis said. Work will also begin soon on Iron Mountain, wrapping the trail all the way around the mountain. When finished, that trail will offer less-technical choices for riders, Sturgis said.

Another as-yet-unnamed trail around the Silver Star area to the top of "Puke Hill" at Scott’s Peak has received funding and will begin construction at an undetermined date this summer. The trail will allow people to access Mid-Mountain and Ridge Crest trails more easily. "Right now, it’s a hump," Sturgis said.

MTF will be tearing up parts of the Rail Trail at the end of July to accommodate work on a water pipe at the water treatment facility. The work will extend from Chatham Crossing to Richardson Flat Road. An old dirt road beside it will serve as an alternate to hikers and riders, but it won’t have a hard surface for roller bladers or baby carriages. Sturgis expects that work to conclude and the segments of the Rail Trail to reopen by Nov. 1.

He expects work on the Pipeline trail off the Quinn’s Trailhead by U.S. 40 to be completed by the end of the summer. The soft surface track will be ideal for family riding, and it will also be converted into a cross-country skiing track for the winter season.

Sturgis said that any hikers or riders who spot downed trees blocking the trail can e-mail him with the location at charlie@mountaintrails.org or call 435-649-6839.


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