You’ve probably heard just enough about what is happening at the Magnolia trails area up around Nederland to generate many questions.
First, some background:
- 2003 – The Caribou-West Magnolia Travel Management Plan was released and designated the trails in the area as system trails.
- 2010 – US Forest Service (USFS) reached out to BMA as a partner involved in the care of West Magnolia and asked for input in mitigating the effects of the impending fuels reduction plan.
- 2010 – BMA successfully applied for a Colorado State Trails Planning Grant to assess the area and suggest how to best manage the area moving forward post fuels treatment. USFS and BMA committed matching funds toward completing the plan.
- 2014 – BMA delivered the completed West Magnolia Trail System Master Pan plan to USFS.
- 2016 – Following the fuels treatment, the USFS completed an Environmental Assessment in December, which was expanded to include all of the Magnolia area trails (Magnolia Non-Motorized Trail Plan) and will guide the management of use in the area moving forward.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW
BMA has been working for years building trails around Magnolia, but recently the USFS released a plan that helps define the trail system and what it will look like as it’s built out over the next decade.
The system is planned to be a network of navigable, well-signed trails with a focus on easy access from Nederland, and increasingly difficult and rugged trails the further you venture from town.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
It means you’ll be able to park in town and ride with your kids or new intermediate friends to score a nice 1-2 hour loop. On that loop, you can stay in what forest service calls Zone 1, which is the relatively flat core of the existing West Magnolia system. All of the confusing intersections and eroded, loose rocky trails will be replaced with well-designed, well-signed trails that are easy to turn into loops.
Many of the Zone 1 trails will have optional lines to increase difficulty if you choose to challenge yourself. It will be a great place to bring folks who aren’t ready for the typical Front Range 1000 feet of climbing as you step out of your vehicle.
WHAT IF YOU WANT MORE RUGGED TRAILS AND MORE ELEVATION GAIN?
No problem. Ride through Zone 1 as your warm-up making your way quickly into what USFS calls Zone 2, which is where the elevation starts to kick in. Here trails will be a bit more rugged, but still well-signed and easy to navigate, so you can get some decent elevation gain and, consequently, some sweet downhills. There will be easier routes to find your way to the top of the Schoolbus Trail and different downhills back into Zone 1. Think bigger loops, more challenging, 2-3 hour loops.
BUT WHAT ABOUT BACKCOUNTRY?
Yep, got that too. Work your way back into the mountains beyond Zone 2 into Zone 3, the true backcountry. Here you’ll find much more remote and challenging trails with less intrusive signage. Leave Zone 3 in Magnolia and make your way on the Indian Peaks Traverse – and go all the way to Winter Park on trail!
First, we’ll be focusing on building Zone 1 and then we’ll move on into the other zones. There are good times ahead – happy trails indeed!