I stopped by the Alpine District Office yesterday and picked up the trail clearing schedule for 2021. Crews will begin the season on the popular Mt. Baldy (Arizona's second highest peak), two crews working simultaneously on the East Fork Trail (#9) and West Fork Trail (#94).
From there they move to Indian Springs Trail (#627) and the West Fork of the Black River Trail (#628). Escudilla National Recreation Trail (#308) is next and needs it. On a recent trip it took climbing over roughly 100 trees before arriving 3 miles later at the crippled fire tower.
It's still worth it for the airplane-like views from the summit of the states third highest peak at just under 11,000 feet. The air is thin and the views are long.
Escudilla Trail is the only National Recreation Trail within a designated wilderness area. It's a shame it isn't treated with a bit more reverence, or a greater sense of urgency.
"National Recreation Trails are existing land-based and water-based trails that provide close to home recreation opportunities on Federal, State and local lands. National Recreation Trail designation promotes some of our country's highest-caliber trails with the intention of providing recreation access to rural and urban communities, economic development through tourism, and healthy recreation opportunities. National Recreation Trails are recognized by the federal government, with the consent of any Federal, State, Tribal, local, nonprofit, or private entity having jurisdiction over these lands. Today almost 1,300 of these trails have been designated throughout the country. They are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico." Quote from the National Park Service.
Trail crews will move to the Blue Range Primitive Area next completing KP Trail North Fork Trail (#93), KP Trail (#70), McKittrick Trail (#72) and finish up with Steeple Trail (#73).
A heartfelt thanks goes out to the hard-working men and women on the trail crews. It's an incredibly hot, dirty, sweaty, dangerous, thankless jobs and their efforts should be rewarded, celebrated and praised.
I know several local hikers would love to see more community involvement doing trail maintenance. The result would be a win for all in a budget strapped Forest Service environment.
It's inconceivable to think the Forest Service doesn't want the trails cleared. My assumption has always been budget issues is keeping the majority of our trails on the Alpine District choked with debris.
Trail maintenance is challenging in the best of conditions and here we are playing catch-up from the Wallow Fire a decade ago.
Today I am committing to researching what it would take to create a community volunteer trail crew in our area.
Let me know if you have any experience with such efforts and I will keep you posted on my progress. Would you be willing to volunteer your time and muscles to keep our trails in good condition?