Dixon Trail Construction - From the Top of the Mountain 2016 Interim Report Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park September 2 nd, 2016

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1 - Dixon Trail Construction - From the Top of the Mountain 2016 Interim Report Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park September 2 nd, 2016 Prepared by: Andy Riter, Program Coordinator, and Joe Lavorini, Program Director Rocky Mountain Field Institute 815 South 25 th street, suite 101 Colorado Springs, CO Dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of public lands

2 2 Background This interim 2016 report of progress on the construction of the upper third of the Dixon Trail is submitted at the request of the Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park, who funded the first week of construction occurring between July 26 and July 31, An annual 2016 report will follow, documenting the full year s progress on this project. Cheyenne Mountain State Park Open to the public in 2006, Cheyenne Mountain State Park (CMSP) is one of the newest additions to the State Park system and the first State Park located in El Paso County. Though the park is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, three public entities own the lands that comprise CMSP: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Colorado Springs, and the State Land Board. The park is a popular location for hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and camping, seeing between 120,000 and 150,000 visitors annually. CMSP is uniquely situated in a transitional zone between the Great Plains grassland and the forested Front Range Mountains, allowing multiple ecotones to exist within a relatively small area. Plant communities include mixed-grass prairie, oak shrubland, ponderosa pine forest, Douglas-fir forest, and mixed montane forest. The park also supports riparian forests, foothill prairie, lower montane grasslands, and successional aspen forest to a limited degree. The diverse plant communities within the park allow for an equally diverse population of wildlife. The eastern part of the park is dominated by grasslands that transition into shrublands and eventually move up Cheyenne Mountain at its western extent. CMSP encompasses 2,701 acres with approximately 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. The newest addition of the park is the Top of the Mountain (TOM) area, reaching 9,565 feet above sea level. Dixon Trail The Dixon Trail is approximately 3 miles in length and named after one of the area s original homesteaders, Thomas Dixon. The trail winds up the south ridge of Cheyenne Mountain (Figure 1), and when completed, will eventually tie the lower portion of the park into the Top of the Mountain (TOM) trail network in the upper portion of the park. RMFI completed the 3.2-mile TOM trail network in October 2015, and began work on the Dixon Trail from the top down in July The TOM and Dixon Trails have been high priorities for the community and the park managers for several years. Access to the TOM from the Dixon will offer visitors a stunning view of the Front Range, provide access to some of the park s more unique resources, and provide a strenuous physical challenge. The 6.2-miles of additional trail will eventually extend from the North Talon Trail to the TOM, and cross steep terrain with average slope greater than 30% grade at its top. The TOM area consists of approximately 1,021 acres acquired in 2009 through a partnership with the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

3 3 Partner organizations have been working to build the new Dixon Trail since 2013, clearing corridor and constructing trail tread on the flatter, lower 2/3 rd of the trail. After completion of the TOM trail in 2015, RMFI turned its priorities to the upper portion of the Dixon. RMFI has decades of experience constructing trails in rugged and remote areas and have the capacity to lead and coordinate multi-day work projects with professional trails crews and staff camped on site. Based on labor estimates calculated during a fall 2014 site visit, RMFI anticipates the top 1/3rd of the Dixon Trail to require 30 days of work with a 10-person crew, plus necessary travel and camp set-up time (please note, 30 days is an estimate and subject to change due to weather, terrain, and volunteer availability, among other variables). Due to crew and funding availability, RMFI recommended and has planned to break the project up over the course of 2-3 years. RMFI hosted a 6-day volunteer work event in July 2016, and has contracted with a local youth conservation corps for an additional 3 weeks (12 days) of work yet to come in 2016, and anticipates a similar amount of work in Upper Dixon Trail Construction In June 2016, RMFI staff and representatives from the park and from the Friends of CMSP completed a site visit to confirm portions of an upper Dixon Trail alignment designed by Mr. Paul Mead. This alignment, initially traversing terrain of rock outcroppings and precipitous slopes, guided trail construction efforts in July 2016 and will also guide pending work in September and October The alignment twists and turns approximately 1.75 miles down the upper south-facing side of Cheyenne Mountain towards a major saddle topographical feature, where the upper trail segment will join with the lower segment which rises from the mountain s east face. The terrain throughout much of this upper trail alignment will necessitate construction of rock stabilizing structure including steps, risers, and retaining walls as well as skilled saw-work to clear trail corridor and to remove dead-fall, snags, and other hazards. Detailed construction notes for the upper trail alignment need to be written. RMFI anticipates developing construction notes in mid-september of 2016.

4 4 Figure 1. Representation showing the proposed trail system, including the Dixon Trail and the Top of the Mountain trail network. (Cheyenne Mountain State Park 2013 Master Plan, pg. 6) Project Accomplishments To Date Between July 26-31, RMFI led a 6-day Volunteer Vacation to kick-off trail construction, beginning at the connection with the TOM trail system and quickly diving over the south side of the mountain along Mr. Mead s alignment. Over the course of 4, 10-hour work days, the 7 volunteers and 2 RMFI staff members cut-in 450 linear feet of trail tread, cleared the same length of trail corridor, installed 2 rock steps, and built 3 switchbacks. In this particularly steep section, each switchback required substantial rock retaining wall construction to form the switchback turns. Some 135 square feet of rock retaining wall was built for these switchbacks. The portion of trail worked on by the Volunteer Vacation crew represents the steepest and most technical terrain we expect this project to transit. Lower portions of the upper segment of trail include more moderate terrain, which should result in quicker progress on trail construction.

5 5 In September and October 2016, RMFI anticipates overseeing 3 weeks of youth corps crews to continue trail construction from where the July Volunteer Vacation crew left off. July 2016 Work Statistics Dixon Trail Upper Segment Construction Volunteer Vacation Segment o Approximately 450 linear feet of trail tread (24 inch wide) o Approximately 450 linear feet of corridor clearance (6 feet wide, 8 feet high) o 2 rock steps o 3 switchbacks o 135 square feet of rock retaining wall July 2016 Time on Task Statistics 7 volunteers engaged 280 hours on task o Valued at $7, via independentsector.com) 2 RMFI staff 80 hours on task * Note that the time given above does not include time spent in volunteer recruitment and coordination, planning, transportation, establishing camp, and recovering equipment.

6 6 July 2016 Dixon Trail Construction Photos

7 7 Contact Information Joe Lavorini RMFI Program Director (719) ext. 3#

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