A Trail Blazed By the Town, for the Town

We weren’t content to just help the people of Crested Butte, Colorado protect the natural backdrop of their idyllic mountain town. We wanted to help them enjoy it, too. Alongside residents and volunteers, we wielded shovels, pickaxes, and pulaskis to help blaze a brand new 1.2-mile trail through sagebrush and aspen groves in the town’s newly public Kovechar Open Space.

“Not only did the people of Crested Butte take ownership of this land,” says Scott Dissel, philanthropy director for The Trust for Public Land in Colorado. “They busted their backs and built a trail through the heart of it.”

Two buckets and a shovel

Scott couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate National Trails Day. “They gave me two buckets and I spent three hours hauling rocks and dirt,” says Scott. “After working so hard to help protect this land, it feels great to see people using it. This is what it’s all about.”

Nearly 200 people of all ages spent the day building the trail, working in the hot sun to move dirt, construct berms, and level the ground. Extra sweat equity ensured the Lupine trail would be wide enough for use by adaptive vehicles such as hand cycles.

“People are really proud of the new trail. Outdoor life is what it’s all about here,” says Scott.

Years in the making

The completed trail is the culmination of a years-long effort to protect the open space surrounding scenic Smith Hill, which The Trust for Public Land helped the town acquire in 2011. The deal preserves the beautiful backcountry around Crested Butte and provides an easy entry point to an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Crested Butte’s mountain biking community was out in force to support the trail-building initiative. Unlike explorers on foot, mountain bikers rely solely on trails and singletrack for recreation. “Mountain biking is huge here,” says Scott. “And trail-building has become a really cool manifestation of that.”

“The people of Crested Butte are staunch defenders of their environment,” says Scott. “They’ve really taken ownership of this land.”

Watch a slideshow of Colorado Wildlands projects

More about our Colorado Wildlands program