Hot Spot

Monarch Crest Trail 2018

Monarch Crest Trail, CO

The Monarch Crest Trail spans part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail from Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass in the Pike San Isabell and Gunnison National Forests south-central Colorado. Though the Continental Divide Trail is managed primarily for hikers and equestrian user groups, this section of the CDNST is also open to mountain bikes and motorcycles. The trail has become incredibly popular with this diverse group of trail users. Overcrowding and lack of education on how to interact with other types of recreationists have caused user conflicts and the overall recreation experience to be diminished for everyone. Additionally, this high elevation trail can hold large snow drifts into July, many of which are difficult to cross causing visitors to have to travel off trail, around each snow drift, and onto fragile alpine vegetation. This, along with generally high usage, has caused trail erosion and damage to fragile alpine habitat.


The Leave No Trace team worked with local and regional USFS staff, local recreation groups, and guiding services, and other stakeholders and community members to execute a week of targeted training, education programs, roundtable discussions, and service work. A day-long workshop on communication techniques and inter-activity relationship building was held in order to collaboratively work toward better user interactions on the trail moving forward. A series of roundtable discussions were held while riding the trail to see and discuss the impacts first hand and brainstorm actionable items to address and improve the overall experience and state of the trail. Additionally, we held a community trails celebration and carried out multiple service projects to rehabilitate a stretch of trail and install Leave No Trace-focused sign kiosks.

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