A new trail, connecting the Eider and Mill Creek trail systems, took years to build. The Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) announced a memorandum of understanding with the US Forest Service, giving the go-ahead for the club’s next phase of fundraising and new trail construction.
The new Eider Connector at Mill Creek will be built to accommodate beginners through to advanced user groups for multi-use hiking, running and mountain biking, according to a press release. The new two-mile-long trail segment has been professionally monitored and flagged to meet USFS trail standards and requirements. An additional connector on the sunny side will provide more connectivity options and recreation opportunities early in the season (while other trails are still closed), creating less damage on other trails that are not yet passable or practicable at the start of the season. This area is very popular with trail users and spreading out use is a proactive approach to future overcrowding.
“The Telluride Mountain Club has been actively planning trails in the Telluride area since 2015,” said TMtC Director Heidi Lauterbach. “The approval process is long, well thought out and incredibly scientific. Our board and staff are excited to embark on the construction of our first new trail on USFS land this year. We look forward to many years of success to come in partnership with the USFS Norwood Ranger District on the trails of the Telluride area.
The new trail project costs over $90,000. The estimate includes corridor clearing, trail construction, finishing work, signage, personnel and other expenses. Club officials said they need to raise $45,000 by July 8 in order to make the track a reality this year. Money raised from the recently announced fundraiser will match $45,000 the club already has on hand, received from private donors and membership donations. This is part of the club’s efforts to create a network of well-connected regional trails.
“This new trail is a good first step in efforts to better connect the region’s trail network,” Lauterbach said. “TMtC wants to help create a more connected trail network that will help disperse use, strategize for future growth in the Telluride area, improve connectivity between existing trails, and provide a more durable and eco-friendly, easy to access and navigate.”
The plan is to open the new trail this spring, as soon as the snow melts and the ground is safe to work on. With appropriate funding, TMtC aims to build the new trail and open it to the public later this year.
“The partnership between the USFS and TMtC has grown significantly over the past two years,” said Krys Smith, recreation staff officer for the USFS Norwood Ranger District. “The completion of the Jud Wiebe Bridge project in 2021 has given TMtC momentum to move forward with future trail-focused projects on public lands”
Collaborative efforts have always been a hallmark of TMtC, with partnerships in place with local governments on several trail projects, including the new Bridal Veil Trail and Bridge, and the replacement Jud Wiebe Bridge. Lauterbach said working with the forest service is part of those collaborations.
“A good working relationship with the USFS is imperative for much of TMtC’s work,” she said. “This particular trail is entirely on USFS land, so we needed their permission and approval to move forward with it over the years, through the planning phase, NEPA, and now to build it.”
The club has been involved with trails since 2015. It all started with a simple survey to understand the community’s vision for trails in and around the Telluride area. The survey results were used to formulate and compile a trail proposal that was submitted to the USFS in 2017. In 2019, the club released a Trail Sustainability Plan with the goal of providing an updated inventory. existing trail network and to develop a proposal for non-motorized trails that would connect and build on the current trail network. San Miguel County, San Miguel Regional Transportation Authority, City of Mountain Village, and the Telluride Foundation provided the sustainability plan findings.
Fundraising is already underway for the new trail. Club officials assure donors that no donation is too small. Donation amounts are translated into feet of runway.
The following donations detail just how far – literally – donor dollars will go: $25 for 3ft; $100 for 12 feet; $250 for 29 feet; $500 for 59 feet; $1,000 for 118 feet of trail; $5,000 for 0.11 thousand; $10,000 for 0.22 thousand; $11,220 for a quarter mile; $22,440 for half a mile; and $44,880 for 1 mile of trail.
Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for safe, accessible, enjoyable, and respectful opportunities for human-powered recreational activities in the Telluride area through education, outreach, and the collaboration.
To donate and for more information, visit telluridemountainclub.org.