Monument Scout Troop 17 & USFS Trail 715

Zach Newton working on Trail 715 By Jon Nordby

Despite the abundance of trails we enjoy and maintain in the Monument Preserve, only USFS Trail 715 is officially recognized on official Pike National Forest maps. The official trailhead is just a few hundred yards inside the gate at Schilling and Lindbergh , where TR 715 begins a meandering path that heads generally West towards Mount Herman before heading South out of the 1000 acres that comprise the Preserve. It’s journey continues South, staying below Mt Herman Road, before climbing steeply West up the North Beaver creek drainage under the power lines. Finally crossing Mt Herman Road (MHR), the trail heads back toward Palmer Lake through Limbaugh Canyon, looping around the Front of Mount Herman back to preserve.

Trail 715 is rugged, and purposely unimproved to retain that feel. Equestrians are common on the ride “Around the Mountain”, and are largely responsible for the early route.  Runners and hikers have always been frequent users, and mountain bikers are now enjoying the challenge. This is a challenging trail, with many rock and root obstacles known to pull a shoe off a horse and scrape up hocks, turn an ankle on a distance runner, and rip a derailleur off a mountain bike while flipping the rider over the bars. The challenge is the purpose of this trail, but as waist-deep erosion ruts formed over the years, it became clear we had to step in.

FOMP has worked on 715 extensively to prevent deterioration of the trail while preserving the “unimproved” and remote experience this trail provides. We strive to leave natural obstacles in the trail bed, plan reroutes that are maintainable while still challenging, and trim oak back in a way to where trail-use won’t widen the bed.  I think we’ve mostly met that goal, for there are 1000’s of hours invested in that trail over the past decade from volunteers comprised of school groups, church groups, USFS personnel and firefighters, corporate employees, and local businesses.

One group in particular, Troop 17 of the Boy Scouts of America, has made an enormous impact on this trail over the past 10 years, implementing 9 Eagle Scout projects extending from the trail head, over into the Limbaugh section of trail.

Upcoming newsletters will provide a brief history on various Eagle Scout projects devoted to maintaining this special trail.