Dear All,

Apologies in advance for this long post but there is quite a bit going on.

Five topics:

  • Trail conditions,

  • Our LAST work party – April 23rd,

  • Our National trails day celebration,

  • Private versus public land along the SMD trail,

  • Shared use of the trail.

1.  TRAIL TOO WET FOR BICYCLES AND HORSES: I just came back from hiking on the trail from Deming towards Armstrong and from Armstrong towards Bear Gulch.  I am seeing some ruts from bicycles.  These particular sections have just had tread work done by BLM (as has the Little Applegate By-Pass) and the tread is quite soft.  In the heavily wooded areas it will stay wet MUCH longer then the sections of the trail with southern exposure – such as Bear Gulch towards Wolf Gulch.  Please wait for a few days of sun and warmth to dry things out before riding on your bicycle or horse.  I know you are all excited to get out and ride the trail but our bountiful rain has created a muddy trail – good for hiking/running but not much else.  Thank you.

2.  SIGN UP FOR THE SIGNS UP:  Our last trail work party is this Saturday April 23rd.  We would greatly appreciate a strong turnout for this last BLOW OUT WORK PARTY in order to get the new trail signs up. Please RSVP to Jim at so we can plan the logistics of signs, posts, tools and of course – food.  We need all the assistance we can – we have eight foot posts that need to be carried, large trail signs, tools and of course – food.  If we have enough people, we will break into smaller crews with people going to the various trail heads along Little Applegate.  Anyone with strong energetic friends – please bring them.  It will be extremely satisfying to see these signs go up.  We will meet at Buncom at our usual time – 8:45 AM / Bear Gulch at 9 AM.  Bring your trail trimming tools – if a really large group shows up some of us will head up Tunnel Ridge to trim while others put up signs and do carpentry etc.  Thank you all for your help this winter/spring.

3.  National Trails Day June 4th SAVE THE DATE: We hope all of you will come out to celebrate with us on National Trails Day – the official ribbon cutting ceremony for re-opening the ditch, a kids hike, self-guided hikes and more.  Details will be posted soon about the day’s events.

4.  Private versus BLM Land Along the SMD: While we are totally thrilled to have all the help with trail work  we can get, we want to make sure that no one does any unauthorized clearing or tread work on either BLM or private land.  If you are not working with a scheduled SUTA trail party or with BLM itself, please use these guidelines for any trail work.

  • Use Loppers & hand saws for encroaching branches/poison oak/buck brush – absolutely NO CHAIN SAWing of trees except by BLM or with SUTA work parties.  (No use of chainsaws unless you are BLM certified.)   At this point, except for huge downed trees we cannot step over or ones leaning dangerously over the trail, there is no further need for chainsaw work or the elimination of any trees on the SMD.  If you see any hazard trees, please let me know and I’ll connect with BLM about them if they are too big for us to handle.
  • No Work on Private Land:  There are at least FIVE parcels of private land along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail.  If you don’t know for sure that you are on BLM land, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT touching any trees or doing any tread work.  Trim encroaching branches at most.   We will post a good detailed SMD map on our website soon showing the entire ditch including the private parcels and we will also be putting up private property signs to let you know the boundaries.  Until then, here is a general guide to the private properties on the ditch.  Going up Deming Gulch –  to the left on what we are calling Deming North there is a small private property that the trail crosses. We have permission to use the ditch on this parcel of private land. Stay on the trail.  This entire northern portion of the SMD trail is not officially open or approved by BLM for our use but we hope it will be soon. If you happen to continue north several more miles know that the trail ends in someone’s backyard.  We will be posting a large TRAIL DEAD ENDS sign there but if you see a woven wire fence very close to the trail STOP and turn around before you are in their backyard.  Eventually we hope to  build a connecting trail to the Jack-Ash trail system but for now, The SMD DEAD ENDS.  On Armstrong Gulch, the trail crosses Forest Capital’s land both to the left and right of Armstrong Gulch for quite a long distance. The Armstrong trail head has no official sign because its ALL PRIVATE PROPERTY where the ditch crosses. Please do not do any tree cutting or tread work on either side of Armstrong Gulch unless you are with a scheduled SUTA crew work party that knows the property boundaries.

The other two big private parcels which the ditch crosses are further out along Little Applegate Road. The Sterling Mine Ditch is closed to public use at these two locations and BLM has built great trails to go up and around these areas.  One is at Wolf Gulch where you see the Sterling Mine Ditch continuing in front of you but it is blocked off with a barricade of branches etc.  Please take the by-passes.  Private property signs will be posted in the next few weeks.  If you trespass on the privately owned CLOSED sections of the SMD you jeopardize our relationship with private land owners. Please do not touch any barricades – they are there for a reason. The last big private parcel where the trail turns away from the ditch is between Tunnel Ridge and Little Applegate.

5.  SHARED USE OF THE TRAIL: As soon as it dries up HORSES will be using these trails again.  This is a very narrow trail with steep drop-offs so bicyclists  please be thoughtful of hikers and horses when going around blind curves or down any steep grades.  If you are hiking or on a bike and encounter horseback riders, if its possible go to the downhill side of the trail – its much less threatening to the horse.  If you speak to a horse and rider as they approach, the horse then knows you are not some monster about to eat them.  It really is a huge help.  Please lets make sure we all can share the trail successfully.  The SMD has always been restricted to hikers and horses.  For those of you who are avid bicyclists, please spread the word to go slow on any blind spots or hills.  We want this shared trail to be a success so that bicycles can continue to use this great trail.  If there are problems we will have to return to restricting it to hikers and horses only.

Thank you all.  See you next Saturday or somewhere out on the trail.


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