Friday, March 22, 2013

Feds propose new summer trails

55 more miles of tracks planned for Baldy, Galena


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

    Regular users of summer trails may have more options within the next few years if two proposals to add a total of about 55 miles of non-motorized trails on Bald Mountain and near Galena Lodge are approved.
    The Galena Lodge project is the more extensive of the two, involving 37.5 miles of new trails and 14.1 miles of existing trails that will be rolled into a 51.6 mile non-motorized trail network on the Sawtooth National Forest.
    The project also involves expanding and improving the ever-busy Galena Lodge parking lot, which will serve as a hiking and biking trailhead in summer. A horse trailhead will be constructed across state Highway 75 from the lodge.
    Ed Cannady, recreation coordinator for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, said the proposal was originally submitted to him by the Blaine County Recreation District. The project plan states that currently, summer recreation opportunities “do not compare” to the area’s 32 miles of groomed winter trails and are “very limited.”
    According to the document, there are two single-track summer trails in the project area—the three-mile Gladiator Trail, which is not accessible to mountain bikers, and the three-mile Titus Creek Trail, which is used by horses and hikers but is “not advisable” for mountain bikers.
    The Harriman Trail, the document states, is less than appealing because it is not a single track trail, it leaves the lodge area and heads for the SNRA headquarters almost immediately and it does not create a loop, which the document says most riders prefer.
    Comments on this proposal are due April 22 and may be sent to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, attn: Galena Summer Trails Project, 5 North Fork Canyon Rd., Ketchum, ID 83340. The SNRA will collect comments and consider public input before deciding whether to approve the project.
    The public got a first look at the Bald Mountain biking trails last May, when Julian Tyo, the resort’s mountain projects manager, held a meeting at River Run Lodge to discuss the possibility of forming a “ski season for summertime” by building 14.2 miles of new non-motorized mountain biking trails on Baldy.
    The extent of the project has since been increased to 19.6 miles of new trails, which would be built over a three- to six-year period by Sun Valley Co. Eleven of those trail miles would be on Sawtooth National Forest land.
    Joe Miczulski, recreation forester for the Ketchum Ranger District, said the trails would not interfere with the existing Bald Mountain Trail, a popular top-to-bottom hiking trail on Baldy.
    However, there will be a myriad of new mountain biking trails—a mix of beginner and intermediate trails with a few new miles of expert-level track. The trails will be designed as “flow trails,” one-way downhill bike trails with features such as banked turns, rock obstacles and “rollers”—rises that allow fast-moving bikers to lift off at the high point.
    The trails that the Forest Service is seeking comment on are only the trails above the Roundhouse Restaurant on Bald Mountain; Miczulski said the BLM will handle analysis for trails connecting the Roundhouse Restaurant with the River Run base area. Construction could begin this summer if the project is approved.
    Comments should be sent to the Ketchum Ranger District, Box 2356, Ketchum, ID, 83340, attn: Bald Mountain Summer Trail Proposal. Comments are due by April 20.
Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com


Summer trail use exceeds skier days
The Sustain Blaine economic development group announced last week that the results of a recent survey show that summer user days for the area’s trails systems far surpass the number of skier days at Sun Valley Resort. The report states that between April and November 2012, the Sun Valley region trail systems from Galena Pass to Croy Canyon saw 725,000 user days—far more than the estimated 460,000 alpine and Nordic skier days calculated for the 2011-12 season. The Wood River Trails system stretching from north of Ketchum to south of Bellevue accounted for nearly 350,000 user days alone. The rest of the user days were from backcountry and other single-track trails.


 




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