Boy scouts to help build Phillips Ridge trails
Scouts to provide labor for two new multi-use routes on Teton Pass during weeklong visit.
Walt Berling cuts logs during construction of a bridge on the Phillips Ridge trail, part of a Boy Scout project for new multi-use routes. PHOTO COURTESY TIM YOUNGView our entire photo gallery >>
By Michael Pearlman, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
July 16, 2008
If all goes according to plan, backcountry users on Teton Pass will soon have a pair of new multi-use trails thanks to a massive volunteer project involving the Boy Scouts of America.
Since early June, a team of trail designers led by Greater Snow King and Teton Pass trails coordinator Chris Peck have been flagging trail, clearing brush and cutting logs to prepare for the arrival of 1,000 members of the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts’ national honor society.
Scout leaders will arrive in Jackson on Tuesday, with the rest of the scouts arriving on July 26. At night, they will camp at the Jackson Hole Middle School athletic complex. During the day though Aug. 1, they will dig trail on Teton Pass. Most of the scouts will be focused on constructing a pair of new trails on the north side of Highway 22, while some will work on a pair of projects located on the south side of the highway, devoting an estimated 40,000 hours to the projects in seven days.
“To build 12 miles of trail in a week is a monumental task,” said Linda Merigliano, wilderness trails coordinator for Bridger-Teton National Forest. “They’re going to be putting singletrack in all the way along Phillips Ridge, and that’s going to allow for a lot of different loop opportunities.”
Both new trails are located on the north side of Highway 22 and are accessed from the Phillips Canyon trailhead. One is the Arrow trail, a new multi-use route designed for mountain bikers accessing the popular Phillips Canyon singletrack descent. It will be located below the current multi-use trail, which will be redesigned to encourage hiking and equestrian use. According to Merigliano, heavy traffic and blind corners created safety issues on the old path, especially when mountain bikers would attempt to pass other trail users. The route for the Arrow trail was flagged by Peck and Harlan Hottenstein, and the trail is located on the south side of the Bonneville Power Authority Road that snakes north from the trailhead.
The second new route is called the Phillips Ridge trail, which will connect two segments of the power-line road with singletrack, using a series of gentle switchbacks offering spectacular views of Rendezvous Peak and Phillips Canyon along the ridge above the Wilson faces. The new trail will be ideal for less-experienced mountain bikers, according to Merigliano, and will link up with the lower section of the Phillips Canyon outlet to Fish Creek Road. The Phillips Ridge trail project is a massive undertaking being led by Erik Jacobsen, a Forest Service frontcountry trail crew supervisor. For the past month, wilderness trail crew members Sarah Newcom, Elee Kallusky, Chris Owen and Kasey Stewart have worked diligently to clear a route through a talus field.
“We’re dealing with some very steep sideslopes, and we’re trying to make a hard zone passable,” Jacobson said. “Our big challenge is getting through a whole bunch of rock, so we’ve got crew members smashing rocks and moving huge rocks. For the switchbacks, we’re using huge Douglas fir timbers that are being moved with rigging.”
When the Scouts arrive, they will be using buckets to transport dirt to the talus zone to make the area rideable. Two of the workers, Seth Halman and Mike Penterson, were brought in by Jacobsen specifically for their expertise with a chainsaw, while three trail crew members from the Blackrock Ranger district – Zinnia and Eli Wilson and Eric Tietze – were brought in to assist with the complex log work.
The route will include a series of 12 switchbacks, engineered to last 50 to 75 years by constructing reinforced log walls. Jacobsen expects work on the switchbacks to continue after the Scouts leave, with a goal of completing the route by the end of the summer.
To engineer the route, Galen Rockenbach, owner of Copestone Trail Building, has been brought in to consult, with a goal of keeping trail grades below 10 percent.
“The side hill is so steep we have to build a retaining wall to hold the fill,” Jacobsen said. “Since we anticipate the primary user group will be bikers, we’re trying to make it as bike friendly as possible so you can ride up and down it.”
In addition to the two new trails, two projects focused on horse and hiking routes are taking place on the south side of Highway 22 over Teton Pass. At the bottom of the pass, two reroutes will be done to the Big Rocks trail, a popular two-mile hiking path that sits in the lower part of Black Canyon. The second project will be the completion of the old wagon road, now known as the History trail. The multi-use route will go from the top of the pass to the bottom, beginning at the Teton Pass parking area.
To help fund the projects, Friends of Pathways has launched an “Invest in Dirt” campaign with a goal of raising $30,000 for the project and to reinvest in the current trail network. For information on making a contribution, visit www.friendsofpathways.org or call 733-4534.