After four years of sweat, dirt and exhaustion, a substantial effort to rehabilitate three miles of trail in and around the Alberta Falls and Lake Haiyaha area of Rocky Mountain National Park has been completed.
The project was a collaboration between the park and the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, a non-profit friends group that works hard to meet the needs of the park.
Work on a few finishing touches along the trails is wrapping up now and a celebratory, free, interpretive hike is scheduled for Saturday, September 29, which is also Public Lands Day.
This trail network, which links Alberta Falls and Lake Haiyaha, is easily accessed from the popular Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge trailheads, and is a popular area in the park. Park officials say the trail continuing on to Lake Haiyaha was unimproved, and hikers had difficulty finding the route to the lake. This section of trail was never formally designed or constructed, and increasing use caused significantly deteriorating trail conditions, resource degradation and erosion. These problems have been carefully corrected, officials say.
The project greatly increased visitor safety and improved the trails’ usability and beauty, while protecting the area’s fragile and valuable natural resources and retaining a primitive character. The properly constructed trails, which incorporate significant sections of labor-intensive dry-laid stone, are expected to last for at least 100 years.
Over the last four years, the Rocky Mountain Nature Association raised more than $400,000 to support this ambitious trail restoration and construction project. Contributors included nearly 1,000 generous private donors, the Colorado State Trails Fund, the Gates Family Foundation and more. Rocky Mountain National Park staff, volunteers, and RMNA’s own American Conservation Corps worked hard to make the needed improvements.
This was a tremendous group effort—many thanks to all who pitched in time and money.
“There can be no better use of our collective efforts on behalf of Rocky Mountain National Park than to enhance the opportunity for public enjoyment of this pristine landscape while also improving its protection,” said Charles Money, the association's executive director.
Rocky Mountain Superintendent Vaughn Baker says the association's support was much needed and appreciated.
"The park’s trail crew, with critical assistance from a variety of other groups like the American Conservation Corps, the Texas Trail Tamers and the Southeast Utah Group National Park Service trail crew accomplished great work," said Superintendent Vaugh. "Hikers will be pleased with the end-result.”
Space for the hike Saturday is extremely limited, so officials are taking phone reservations at 970-586-0108. Once you call and land a spot, you'll receive instructions on where to meet and what to bring with you.
With this trails project wrapping up, the RMNA is working to secure funds for the next high-priority trail project in the park. Details will be announced soon. To learn more, become a member, or make a donation, visit the association's website.