Gunnison Trails and the BLM teamed up once again and led trail projects for over 300 freshman during orientation week at Western State Colorado University. The Par Course and the Old Car Trail behind Mountaineer Bowl received the lion’s share of the attention but one of the four sessions was devoted to extending the Contour Trail east of Gunnison.

Not just trailwork, each group heard about the importance and value of our public lands, an introduction of sorts, to public lands. Respect for wildlife, including Gunnison Sage-grouse and big game during winter; the importance of staying on designated roads and trails; leave no trace ethics were among topics presented to these new valley residents as ways to ensure that these public lands will be around and in great condition for generations to come.

The Par Course exercise trail, complete with vintage signage and workout stations from the late 70’s, has been a staple for walkers, runners and mountain bikers for over 30 years. Unfortunately, sustainable design and construction of trails was virtually unknown when this trail was built and water has been ravaging it for years. This summer’s precipitation has been especially unkind and numerous segments of the trail were scoured, rutted and in poor condition.

Under the tutelage of crew leaders from Gunnison Trails and the BLM, incoming freshman built numerous water diversion features and replaced untold wheelbarrow loads of soil. While not perfect yet, these trails will now give up water and should set up nicely with use and precipitation.

At the same time, The Old Car Trail and the winding trail to the west of the Old Car Trail (we should name it) also received attention, as well as the nearby double track that was delivering too much water to the northern portion of the Par Course. While water diversion and soil replacement were the focus of most of the work on the WSCU property, this year’s bumper crop of weeds was also addressed by student workers. Weeds were pulled on the flow trail and the pump track and both are now ready for knobby tires.

Friday’s session took around 90 students, faculty and crew leaders east of Gunnison to the furthest reaches of the Contour Trail. This little known section of trail was improved by students and once a gate is installed through a barbed wire fence, this section will be good to go. Chances are, the Contour Trail continues on farther than you think it does. Check it out.

Many thanks to our friends at the BLM including Jim Lovelace, Andy Welsh, Stuart Schneider and Tim Specca; Gunnison Trails volunteer crew leaders Justin Varaljay, Ryan Sullivan, Zach Triesman, Leo Malloy, Scott Travis, Randy Melton, Justin Lee and Alexander Alleman; Julie Feier, Scott Travis and Josh Sohn from WSCU for staging tons of dirt at the work sites and logistics; Cody Washka and Conner Roper for providing site support; and the First Year Experience leadership including Sara Phillips and William Neimi, as well as numerous upper class students from WSCU, who worked as orientation leaders.

We’ll continue to work to improve the WSCU Campus trail system, including the Contour Trail, but for now, enjoy!