Ideas for better Ute Trail management
June 14, 2011
For decades, every available sundown I have hiked the Ute Trail, which simultaneously offers a good workout and a plunge into nature. Accessible without driving outside of town, the Ute is particularly rewarding on its lower slopes where foliage bursts around the hiker, giving a sense of being part of the unfolding process.
It was therefore a shock, this Sunday afternoon, to come upon a stretch where the encompassing growth, some of it in bloom, had been cleared away from the trail as if it would somehow contaminate the hiker, or as if the Ute aspired to thread an English garden.
A sign at the trail’s entrance says that it is maintained by the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers – and maintenance is indeed necessary on a slope of falling trees and cascading rocks, particularly after a winter like the last one. That maintenance has been handled well to date, with rocks discreetly stashed at the trail’s edge and occasional branches, bolstered by smaller rocks, fending off erosion on vulnerable stretches.
I congratulate the volunteers on years of a job well done.
But I write in haste, and hope to be so printed, because just above the vegetation just mangled lie more stretches where foliage wonderfully encloses the trail without interfering with passage, and where similar thoughtless clearing would destroy a cherished experience. Surely the drive to clip can be confined to our overmanicured town, from which the Ute provides relief.
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Hikers of the Ute like our nature up close. Don’t hack it away from us!