Headwaters Trail Alliance Goes Big to Preserve, Enhance, and Promote Grand County's Extensive Trail System

Second Creek Winter Park, CO

When we hop on a trail for a quick ride or head out to hike for a few hours, we rarely consider how the trails we're using got here (or who is taking care of them!). Sometimes, I find myself so deep in appreciation for a sunset ride or seeing a rainbow from the top of the Leland Creek trails that I forget to remember the people who build and maintain the trails that make it possible for us to explore our backyard with such ease.

Headwaters Trail Alliance (HTA) is a local nonprofit that maintains, builds, and promotes high-quality, multi-use trails in Grand County. Linking towns, recreational areas, secondary trail systems, and cultural and community amenities, our expansive and well-maintained trail system is due in large part to the work of HTA. Ride over a bridge recently? Notice a new trailhead parking lot or the portable bathrooms added near trailheads? Appreciate the signage and trail markings? See a downed tree chainsawed to clear the trail? You can thank HTA. The trail alliance partners with local agencies and volunteers throughout the county to enhance the user experience while focusing on sustainability and minimizing ecological impacts.


They partner with the towns, the county, the resorts, Fraser Valley Recreation District, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and various other agencies to collaborate in reaching goals and providing such high-caliber trails all while stewarding natural resources well. In fact, they were recently honored with the 2022 Partners in the Outdoors Northwest Region award from Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a result of their commitment to support CPW's mission to "perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state, to provide a quality state parks system, and to provide enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources.” 


During the 2021 summer field season, 1,351 hours (6,158 total people hours) were spent on the trails. This time was spent on 530 miles of trail maintenance, removing 9,718 hazardous trees, 2,320 drains clearing or constructing 2,320 drains in wetlands, constructing 27,720 feet of new trail, and rerouting 18,480 feet of trail. This summer's projects include various fire restoration work, critical improvements to the Challenger-Discovery adaptive trail loop near the base of Winter Park Resort, a 27-foot long bridge for the soon-to-come Pinball Ridge trail, and restoration work on the High Lonesome and Jim Creek Trails (needed after the catastrophic wind event from 2020). Upcoming plans will bring new bridges on the St. Louis Lake trail and Vasquez Pass. 


Volunteers are the backbone of the work HTA does. Whether giving time with "boots on the ground" for various trail projects or adopting a trail as an individual or organization, having such a tangible way to give back to the community is always rewarding! Check out upcoming volunteer opportunities and sign up as a Stewardship Ambassador here. Grand County's Annual National Public Lands Day is September 24th, and it is one of our favorites ways to jump in for a day!


While the trail alliance partners with municipalities that help fund projects, they rely heavily on (tax-deductible) donations. You can donate online here. Or keep your eyes out for events like moonlight skis, progressive dinners, and bike pub crawls to help support the work they do! 

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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