trails

The Telluride Mountain Club’s Telluride Regional Trails Survey is available through the end of the year online at surveymonkey.com/r/tmtctrails. (Courtesy photo)

Telluride Mountain Club (TMtC) is seeking input from local trail lovers through its Telluride Regional Trails Survey, which is available online through the end of the year at surveymonkey.com/r/tmtctrails.

“The survey seeks to understand the community’s input for future trail planning and projects, or lack thereof. The survey is 33 questions and takes most respondents 10 to 15 minutes. TMtC hopes to generate hundreds of responses to help shape their role with trails moving forward,” according to a news release.

Executive director Heidi Lauterbach explained there has been a healthy response so far and she’s noticed some early trends from the feedback.

“It’s been good so far, but we are hoping to double our answers. We have around 350 responses and would like to get at least 650 so we feel confident the trends in response represent the entire community,” she said. “So far, generally speaking, of course, the general trend is that people want our trail system to be improved with thoughtful new connectors, trails and signage to accommodate potential future increased use and demand. Results encourage planning to be thoughtful of conservation efforts and wildlife in the area.”

The club’s most recent work includes partnering with local governments on several trail projects, including the new Bridal Veil Trail and bridge, and Jud Wiebe replacement bridge. Lauterbach added that the next trails project will focus on the Eider to Mill Creek Connector Trail, which has been in the works for the past couple of years.

“Our next big project is the Eider to Mill Creek Connector Trail. This trail was proposed to the USFS (U.S. Forest Service) in 2019, went through all the proper NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) steps and was officially approved this fall,” she said. “We plan to break ground during the spring or summer of 2021 and have the trail open sometime next year. Additionally, and one key reason this survey is so important, is that we are working on short- and long-term trail planning and proposals and want to be sure we are supporting the community’s vision for future trails.”

The club has been involved with trails since 2015. It all started with a simple survey to understand the community’s vision for trails in and around the Telluride region. The survey results were used to formulate and compile a Trails Proposal that was submitted to the USFS in 2017. In 2019, the club released a Trails Sustainability Plan with the purpose of providing an updated inventory of the existing trail network and develop a proposal of non-motorized trails which would connect and build upon the current trail system. San Miguel County, San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation, the Town of Mountain Village and the Telluride Foundation provided finding for the sustainability plan.

The club also recognizes that trail needs have changed over the years since the first survey, and that is something the current survey will help address as well, Lauterbach explained.

“Everything we have done in regards to trail planning has been created to be very dynamic. Priorities change. Funding opportunities come and go. Partnerships ebb and flow. We want our projects to support the community's vision when the reality of the project is realistic,” she said. “I think what has changed the most is obvious — the pandemic prompted fast growth in Telluride. Trails and outdoor recreation quickly became an outlet for many people. The appreciation for our backyard grew among everyone, not just full- and part-time locals, and use became more obvious. There is no better time to check back in with the Telluride community on their vision for the regional trail system.”

For more information, visit telluridemountainclub.org.