By Julie Mach, CMC Conservation Director
The Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) has been working with private landowners to re-open the Decalibron Loop Trail which includes three 14ers – Mt Democrat, Cameron and Lincoln. After CMC installed signs this week, the landowner gave the thumbs up to allow public access on the trail.
The morning of August 4th turned out to be a chilly one when, just after 6am, CMC Conservation staff hit the trail at Kite Lake. The Decalibron Loop trail just west of Alma, CO is 7 miles long with 3,100 feet of elevation gain and over 70% of the trail above 13,000 feet. A large portion of the trail is also located on private property, interspersed with public lands managed by the Forest Service. Closures and access issues have plagued the peaks for over a decade and resurfaced as use continued to increase and land owner concerns regarding liability intensified. CMC began working on the issue again in 2020 and hosted a panel discussion with landowners to further understand the problem and identify solutions.
With a 35-pound pack full of 18×24” metal sign panels, a cordless drill, a wrench and an assortment of nuts and bolts, the steep ascent towards the shoulder of Mt. Bross felt a little slower than usual but the views were stunning and this signage project was the last piece of the puzzle in re-opening the peaks. The privately-owned sections of the Decalibron loop had been closed to the public since May of 2021. During the intervening months, CMC staff completed several trail inspections to documents conditions along the trail and inventory signage needs using the RIMS Mobile App. This data allowed the landowner to secure additional insurance and purchase signs to delineate regulations, private property segments and warn against hazards adjacent to the trail.
On the ridgeline an hour into the hike, the 30-40 mile an hour wind gusts and temps below freezing made installing the signs a bit more dynamic – turns out cold fingers are not great for handing metal hardware – but, after finding a rhythm, the process of affixing panels to posts along the trail was relatively quick. The very heavy metal signs reading “Access across private property, please stay on the designated trail” were placed along all the private segments of trail while “No Tresspassing” signs were installed near mining adits and infrastructure which are closed to the public for safety reasons. In total, CMC installed nine signs along the route and were back at the office by 1pm for the next zoom meeting!
We are incredibly pleased to announce the re-opening of the Decalibron Loop Trail with permission from the landowner as of August 6, 2021. Please note: users MUST stay on the designated trail and the summit of Mt. Bross remains closed due to fractional ownership. We appreciate the support we’ve gotten from the trails community in respecting the closure earlier this season and we are grateful for the landowners who have spent a vast amount of time and financial resources (those signs are not cheap!) to allow public access. CMC will continue to work with our partners at the Forest Service, the Town of Alma, the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative, and Colorado Fourteeners Initiative to continue stewarding these peaks and finding solutions to preserve public access.
To learn more about these access issues, check out our original blog post HERE.
UPDATE August 27, 2021 – Check out KGNU Radio’s interview with CMC Conservation Director Julie Mach on the Decalibron issue! https://www.kgnu.org/connections/8/27/2021