Outside: Prince Creek Takes the Crown

In Magazine, May 2018 by Genevieve Joëlle VillamizarLeave a Comment

Todd Fugate is a Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association board member. A Bonedalian since 1995 and Coloradoan since 1979, he’s a constant seeker of the perfect slice of singletrack and powder stash!

Prince Creek: on track to earning its Crown

New happenings at Prince Creek

Todd Fugate huckin’ it up; Vernal, Utah. Photo, Debbie Watkins

Todd Fugate’s stoke is infectious, isn’t it? If anyone knows what’s happening with the singletrack up Prince Creek, it’s this aficionado. Beyond his career with State Farm Insurance, Todd dedicates a fair amount of time to enjoying, sustaining and promoting the cult of mountain biking.

“In addition to the formal work days [see below],” he says, “I’m spending time working on a new trail, which is an extension of The Father of Ginormous. I usually try and get up there for at least an entire day once a week.”

The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA), with which he is a board member, conducted their April board meeting in the field, breaking ground on a new Monte Carlo directional to make climbing up and bombin’ down safer. Wrapping up the physical labor that evening, Todd toured us along the new stuff he’s accomplished on Father of Ginormous: whoopty doos, doubles,  table tops and berms traversing shoulders, gullies, hillsides.

(It’s pretty cool to think of a grown man on a weekday, all day, setting boulders and hauling buckets of gravel and sand to make all those features. I mean, what do you do when you play hooky? This is classic, like building forts back in the day, kids at play!)

Coming to the end of his progress, right at our feet, the rest of the board members– in their twenties to mid sixties– were honest to gosh all giggly and giddy, like a bunch of kids, awed. At the head of our group, Todd described future work, his arms swooping and flying, mimicking trail. At one point, his arms swept together,  across a massive hillside the trail would launch up, sweep across and back down, leading to our very spot. It was sick! I was already running it, in my mind.

I’m not even a mountain biker, but in those moments, staring at all these dedicated people– who also have jobs and families and commitments– I committed. I’m volunteering, dang it. Rolling single track is a runner’s nirvana. After all these years, miles of dirt and innumerable high points here on the Crown, I had felt like it was time to pay back, buy in, give some sweat. I had reached out to Todd to see how I could do that, thus the invitation to their ‘board trail evening’. It was perfect timing.

It’s incredible what happens behind the scenes to secure trail systems.

Thanks to a bunch of governmental agencies, nonprofits and local businesses, almost a decade of effort finally hit pay dirt last year, with the Crown’s official designation as a Special Recreation Management Area (SMRA).

As Darren Broome of Aloha Mountain Cyclery explains it, “Unlike Mushroom Rock, which has the Red Hill Council, Prince Creek and the Crown area are primarily BLM lands with a little bit of private mixed in. But there was no ‘local’ organization looking out for Prince Creek. It’s kinda been like the wild west up there for years. Anything went– mountain biking; there were motorcycles, ATVs, Jeeps, horseback riders and hikers. With the SMRA, there was an environmental impact study. It cataloged approved, existing and renegade trails that were then either ‘legalized’ or closed; made it more ‘official’. It also looked at flow issues and approved building more trails, directional trails, for safety and flow.”

Participating voters opted for East Bull Pen parking through a Pitkin County Open Space and Trails survey in the fall of 2017. Construction begins this month and is expected to last six weeks. Until then, continue to bike from town, “at the end of the pavement, or higher up on BLM property. Not off to the sides and shoulders of the paved portion of Prince Creek Road,” RFMBA states on their Facebook Page.

With SMRA designation, the involved agencies have prioritized mountain bike use for the west side of the Crown. Prince Creek will have a new trail head parking lot, new trails and new link ups. The best way to learn all about them?

Follow Todd’s inspirational lead and volunteer for trail building days. He has the okay to build trail; don’t go renegade. Join up with RFMBA or RFOV.

Support the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association to advocate and support trail systems from New Castle to Aspen, McClure Pass to Hagerman. Sign up for the Crown’s Lower Jen reroute trail day, May 19, here, or any of RFMBA’s other 2018 projects.

Volunteer with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. You don’t have to haul rock. Join a committee. Become a Steward or an Ambassador; put your professional skills to work.

Or jump in hyper local– the familiar faces at Aloha can get you started, too.

As a local bike shop directly benefiting from Prince Creek, Aloha Mountain Cyclery has somewhat unofficially adopted the Prince Creek area over the years. (In general, Aloha has been involved in community in so many ways for years.)

“It’s our community and our trail system. We feel like it’s our obligation to step in too, to help maintain and  grow the trail systems,” Darren says. “So Aloha sponsors trail maintenance days. We provide the food and drink to get volunteers out there. We work with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) and RFMBA. Between the two of them, they provide tools, leadership and guidance.”

So set aside a Tuesday evening this month and meet the kinda singletrackers that give back. Join Aloha Mountain Cyclery  May 8, 15 or 22  to build and maintain trails in the Prince Creek network. You can email [email protected] to register early. Volunteer on at least two trail projects this summer to earn a shot at winning a new $4500 Cima Highlander mountain bike, courtesy of Ute City Cycles.

“The next big trail coming in is pretty exciting,” says Todd. “It will be called Undie. The word plays off the existing trail names, Innie & Outtie, all referencing their proximity to Sopris (in close, out far, under). This trail will be almost 5 miles in length and will be our link to the very tip top of the Crown. Although the trail itself will be 5 miles, how it ties into the other trails in the system will result in a 7+ mile top to bottom descent 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (1 smiley for every mile)!”

“Officially this trail has yet to clear all hurdles,” he points out, “but should be finished with approvals by this fall. The spring trails are the ones currently in progress –  Father of Ginormous extension, Jen’s reroute & Dinkle Link.

Other ways to help.

Prince Creek and the Crown are our backyard. The days are done when you could have a quiet day solo up there. BLM camping is unregulated. People squat. Teens party. I find entire cardboard cases of empties, spent condoms and even mattresses and Christmas trees.

On an early spring day, 5-6 years ago, I watched a young guy fill the bed of his truck with garbage. He was pissed and disgusted at how people treat our stomping grounds and doing something about it.

Please make a commitment to pick up trash every time you ride, run, walk your dogs, xc ski or camp. It sucks seeing our public lands treated like shit. This is our backyard. Dive in, volunteer, engage.

And then?  As Todd writes, “Ride on!”

Todd Fugate doing what he loves; Sedona, AZ. Photo, Debbie Watkins