May 2022 SUTA Trail News and Updates

We’re nearly halfway through 2022 and we have lots of trail news to share. First of all, the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail and Jack-Ash Trail are both in great condition, thanks to lots of work by volunteers and our BLM partners. We meet many hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians on the trails every time we go out and its great to see so many of you out there enjoying yourselves.

The first bit of news to share is that we have completed the first mile of the approved Jack-Ash Phase II trails and this new segment is now open! The trail takes off from the Wolf Gap trail, about 0.1 mile from the Trailhead and goes out to a spectacular viewpoint with nearly 360 degree views of the Siskiyous, Red Buttes and beyond, as well as closer in views of the Little Applegate Valley. This trail is near the SMDT, but being higher up lends an amazingly different perspective. This new trail still needs just a bit of fine tuning but should settle in over the summer. Because part of the trail is on a very steep slope it is currently only open to foot traffic for safety reasons. If you need directions to the Wolf Gap trailhead, driving directions are available on our website (www.sutaoregon.org).

We were able to build this trail due to a very generous contribution from a local landowner and proceeds from our Mighty Cause online fundraising (you can still contribute to this fundraiser!). We have applied for several grants and are planning additional grant applications and fundraising to be able to raise enough to continue construction of the other miles of approved trails in the fall. It may take another 2 years to complete building the 11 miles of new trails that were approved, depending on whether we can raise the funds required. Construction costs for each mile of trail range from $12,000 – $15,000 so we have a big task ahead of us to raise all the funds needed to complete this project.

The SUTA trail crew was able to artfully weave the new trail through the rock outcroppings. Photos by J.Rogalla and D.Mallams

We held four work parties between November and April, and with all the volunteers who participated we completed some much-needed tread work on the Wolf Gap access trail and cleared most of a mile of trail in the Wolf Gulch area that is located on private property. The property owners have generously granted an easement and once we have final approval to open this section, it will create a couple of 5-mile loop options from Wolf Gap and Bear Gulch. Watch for an announcement when this trail section will be open.

With the winter storms last December and January there were quite a few trees (more than 30) down on the trails. All the trees have been cleared with the help of a couple of our volunteers with current sawyer certification, good old-fashioned hand saws, and BLM staff. Remember to report any trees you observe that are down along the trail and we’ll work on getting them cleared.

There will be a string-trimming crew working on the trails in May, and all the miles of single-track trails will be newly trimmed by the end of May. This will be the 3rd year we’ve been able to do this level of maintenance and it really helps keep the encroaching vegetation pushed back from the trail. We have funding secured for string trimming and more significant clearing by sawyer crews through 2024. No doubt we’ll be applying for future grants to continue this as an annual effort.

One other project completed is an update/upgrade of our website. We think the new site is easier to navigate and is designed to load more quickly on mobile devices. Send us any feedback you might have!

-Joy

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