From Darkness To Light

4 Dec 2017

Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board approves two connector trails in Horse Gulch

Posted by Adam Howell

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Two proposals from Trails 2000 to work on trails that connect Horse Gulch Road to Cuchillo Trail and the Meadow Loop Trail were approved by the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board this month.

IMG_1281[1]One would create a new connector trail from Horse Road to Cuchillo Trail, and would close the existing social trail connector to Cuchillo Trail.

It would mostly be built with a mini excavator, according to Trails 2000’s Director, Mary Monroe Brown.

The second approved project would consist of an aggressive maintenance and rebuilding of an existing connector between Horse Gulch Road and the Meadow Loop Trail. That connector starts at the top of Cap’s Trail.

Both connectors will provide connectivity to the stacked-loop system, Monroe Brown said.

Primitive status of Horse Gulch Road

Making Horse Gulch Road road passable by emergency response vehicles was also discussed at the meeting.

IMG_6262Board Member Mark Smith asked if Trails 2000 could help make the road passable in the event that the county was unable to make it happen.

“It would be wonderful if the county would come fix their own road,” Smith said.

Trails 2000 Board Member Daryl Crites was at the meeting, and said that they would have to work on the road just to get their mini excavator up to the work site.

“We’ll put the band aids on it; we can’t heal it,” said Crites.

The City has also asked the County if they would work on the road, but has not received an answer yet, said Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz.

Monroe Brown said that DFPD had performed a rescue up in Horse Gulch three weeks ago, and was able to drive up almost to the signed intersection below the Meadow Loop.

She also said that the road was too narrow in some places for two-way traffic, which could lead to user conflicts.

At the same time, she also said that fixing the road was somewhat outside their scope of expertise and jurisdiction. They didn’t want to over promise and under deliver on a project that could require the use of professional road engineers, backfill materials or heavy equipment operators that they don’t have, she said.

Natural Lands Board Member Michael Burke wanted to have time to walk the proposed alignment for the Cuchillo Trail connector before approving its construction.

“In terms of stewardship, beyond just being able to get an emergency vehicle up there, I’m really concerned just about how much erosion is going on up there. How much drainage work, really at some point needs to be done,” Burke said.

“All of us on the board understood from our discussion that it’s a major project that would involve the roads and engineering department. Why not make Horse Gulch Road safe enough for bicycles? That shouldn’t take very much at all. For me personally, there’s so much up there that could be done in the way of restoration, stabilization, erosion and so on, I’d like to see a little more priority there, then on new trail construction,” said Burke.

Either way, Trails 2000 plans to do the trail work with grade reversals in a way that’s sustainable so that they don’t have to go back in the near future, Monroe Brown said.

To find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities with Trails 2000, visit

Adam Howell is an advocate for trails and mountain bike access who currently sits as an alternate voting member of the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.

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