Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trail regraded for bikers, hikers

Osberg High Ridge Trail dedicated July 3

Express Staff Writer

    The 12-mile-long Osberg High Ridge Trail, reopened last fall after eight miles of it were reconstructed to reduce the grade, has received “rave reviews” by those who have ridden, hiked or biked it, Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said.
    The trail follows the ridge on the south side of the Baker Creek drainage north of Ketchum. It begins at the Baker Lake Trailhead, eight miles up Baker Creek Road, and connects to the Castle Creek, Fox Creek and Adams Gulch trails.
    Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and called the Warm Springs Ridge trail, it was renamed the Osberg Ridge Trail after Gloria Osberg, a longtime conservationist and author of “Day Hiking Near Sun Valley.” The trail was officially renamed during a dedication ceremony on July 3.
    Under the direction of the Ketchum Ranger District trails staff, four 12-person Northwest Youth Corps crews spent about two and a half months camping in the backcountry and provided the bulk of hand labor to reconstruct the trail. The nonprofit Northwest Youth Corps was created in 1984 to offer teenagers an education-based work experience modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps.
    The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the Forest Service also provided two small trail “trackhoes” and operators to complete sections of the trail that could be accessed with machinery.
    Volunteers from the Idaho Trails Association helped to complete the work on June 22 and 23.
    Nelson said about half the work’s $160,000 cost was funded by a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, about 20 percent from the Forest Service and the remainder from donations gathered by the Wood River Land Trust and the Idaho Conservation League.
    He said the trail had originally been built at too steep a grade and had become very eroded.        “It really was not sustainable or enjoyable for most users,” he said.
    Nelson said the trail’s grade, originally up to 38 percent, has been reduced to no more than 8 percent over most of its length.
    “Most of it’s very walkable and very ridable,” he said. “It’s one of the crown jewel trails of the valley.”

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