Barr Trail sees a lot of use, and it shows. Rocky Mountain Field Institute assessed the lowest 3 miles of Barr Trail, from the trailhead to the cut off from the top of the Incline, to determine what could be done to reduce erosion and stabilize the trail. This section of Barr Trail receives even heavier use than the rest from people going down after climbing up the Incline. The traditional solution when a trail cannot be rerouted is to install risers (a.k.a. steps) and water bars. RMFI plans to start work this summer on the bottom half mile, from the trailhead up to the spur trail that the runners use for the Ascent and Marathon. But nobody likes risers and water bars, not runners, not bikers, not hikers, not backpackers. (Dogs probably do, but dogs like everything -- they're just built that way.) So RMFI plans to study nontraditional methods for stabilizing trails and reducing erosion and evaluate whether any of these would be suitable for Barr Trail. The erodible nature of the soil makes stabilizing Barr Trail, with any method, especially challenging -- good ol' Pikes Peak granite.
Friends of the Peak plans to have several projects on Barr Trail this year. You can check out the schedule, and also volunteer, on the projects page. Some of the fence posts have deteriorated. So we’ll start off the work on Barr Trail by replacing those. We have one day dedicated to that, and might need the next project day for fence posts, also. Since RMFI is studying the bottom 3 miles, our next project will be above that. But don’t worry, you won’t need to carry those heavy trail work tools 3 or more miles up Barr Trail to the work site. You will need to hike up Barr Trail if you volunteer, but you’ll be light as a feather because someone with a jeep has offered to drive the tools up and take them back down (no, he won’t be driving his jeep up Barr Trail, or up the Incline, either). We’ve reserved 2 project days to prepare the trail for the Ascent and Marathon runners, about a week before the races, to remove tripping hazards and such for them. Hopefully, we won’t have a massive thunderstorm a couple of weeks before the races like the one that hit last year – or maybe we should hope for rain, because it’s hard to complain about rain during a drought. Our friends from AdAmAn also plan to help out on Barr Trail again this year. All in all, there’s plenty to do on Barr Trail. Check out the projects and see if anything piques your interest.