Volunteers Build Trails

Trail work by volunteers on the Deer Creek Hills Preserve near Rancho Murieta.

The vision map calls for 14 miles of new trails added to an existing 18 miles for a total of 32 miles. The existing trails are mostly paved and graveled, were expensive to build, and have a number of issues (see other post). Adding 14 more miles of simple rugged dirt trails, as I first described here, will dramatically  increase the value of the existing trails.

The best part is this can (some would say should) be built by community volunteers. Volunteers build trails. Volunteers are often regular users who just simply are motivated and willing to give their time and energy towards something worthy. Pick up the local El Dorado Hills publications around town and you will find lots of stories about many various groups volunteering for all sorts of causes. We all live busy lives so spending time volunteering means something else isn’t getting that time. Without the sacrifices volunteers make, trails would be much more expensive to build and therefore we’d have fewer miles of trail to use.

Local examples

Salmon Falls Trail is probably the best known nearby trail. It’s 9 miles (one -way) of awesomeness. Built by volunteers from FATRAC. It’s a great trail to ride or hike as it contours along the edge of Folsom Lake. Highly recommended.

Rancho Murieta trail network map of River Section by Lakes Chesbro and Clementia.

Rancho Murieta trail network map of River Section by Lakes Chesbro and Clementia.

Rancho Murieta has a lesser known, but equally awesome, 14 miles of sweet narrow dirt trails. Those trails are built and maintained by all volunteers of the Murieta Trail Stewardship. They hosted a trail building clinic recently (May 2013) that was led by experts from IMBA Trail Care Crew and sponsored by the Sacramento Valley Conservancy. Approximately 50 motivated individuals attended. See the slideshow from that afternoon‘s session where we applied classroom lessons in the field and relocated a section of bad trail in the nearby Deer Creek Hills Preserve (trail guide).

Hidden Falls Regional Park recently opened new miles of trail up near Auburn. It’s also built by FATRAC and other organizations. As I understand it there was an original 7 miles and another new 23 miles were recently opened up this year. Hidden Falls has been described by Supervisor Robert Weygandt as the “Crown Jewel” of the County’s award-winning Placer Legacy program.

The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is another group doing great work in the region, though a little further out in the Portola area. As a 501c3 organization with an annual budget of $400,000 (2010) they get it done with a mixture of full-time and seasonal employees plus a lot of volunteers. For more about them read their ‘about page’.

These are a few examples of local and regional groups getting it done for trail users and by trail users. Put your hands together and join me in acknowledging their hard work and dedication. (clap, clap, clap…)

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6 Responses to “Volunteers Build Trails”
  1. Mike Lyster says:

    Another example although slightly different, is the work that ARC has done creating Cronan Ranch, South Fork American River Trail, Magnolia Ranch etc… The trails were built in conjunction with BLM, volunteers, BLM, ARC and private contractors on previously private properties acquired by ARC then deeded over to BLM. A different model but another nice local example of how trails can get built.

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  1. […] The way you get to that low-end of the cost spectrum is by keeping it simple and marshaling a good group of volunteers. Case in point, you don’t have to look any further than Rancho Murieta to our south. The […]

  2. […] thoughtful. The best ones are sustainable, requiring no or little upkeep. This type is what a volunteer workforce is best suited for building. The difficulty rating on these can range from beginner to expert […]

  3. […] Some insights into maintenance costs on the El Dorado Trail are offered (pg.152, 153, 160). Labor is 80% of maintenance costs (pg. 71), which is why volunteers are needed. The challenge is that people only volunteer for things they believe in and feel a connection to. […]

  4. […] Murieta have built approx 14 MILES of rugged dirt trails for a few thousand dollars and a lot of volunteer labor.  Just […]

  5. […] Low cost – the beauty of the project concept is that people want non-manicured options to play within our local area and it just so happens that a little rugged trail within the PG&E power corridor can be really cheap to build. The skills loop will cost more but still remain super affordable. An essential aspect of the project is volunteers building it. […]



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