Curious Colorado: Why Hasn't The Young Gulch Trail Re-Opened?

Sep 16, 2019

Six years ago this month, there was a flood across the northern Front Range. In addition to destroying homes, roads and businesses, the floods also took out a popular trail in the Poudre Canyon, a trail called the Young Gulch trail. 

And the trail still hasn't re-opened, which prompted a listener to ask, "why?"

KUNC's Colorado Edition called Reghan Cloudman, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, to learn more. 

Interview Highlights

Where is the trail, and why was it closed in the first place? 

Families hiking on the Young Gulch Trail in May of 2008.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

The Young Gulch Trail is located in the Poudre Canyon. Back in 2012, it was impacted by the High Park Fire. Some amazing volunteers got it back open, and three days later, the flood of September 2013 hit and basically wiped away the trail as we knew it.

Since 2013, the Forest Service has been working with a number of amazing northern Colorado organizations and volunteers to redesign the trail. It used to have more than 40 stream crossings, and now that number is down closer to 20, to make it a more sustainable, resilient trail for future use. 

When is it expected to reopen?

The first bridge built along the new trail.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

We are hoping that we'll be able to open it back up to the public sometime this fall, maybe late October but definitely shooting for this fall.

Right now, most of the regular trail portions have been done, there's still a few pieces left, but we're really trying to finalize three bridges and getting them secure, and the trail built up to them and working down from them. So it's kind of this last piece that our Forest Service employees and the volunteers are working hard on right now. 

Will it still be a dog-friendly, off-leash trail?

Nothing is anticipated to change from the way it was managed before. So what people are used to expecting there, they still can — except that the trail is in a little different place now. 

How will the new trail be different from the old one?

It's a little bit higher, so if people were used to being right along the water, it's built up a little bit now. So it's a little different location.

And the view — you know, this landscape has now been impacted by both fire and flood, so it's a different scene than it was before. But our forests are resilient, and lots of things are already coming back. I think folks will be really pleased. 

Young Gulch trail construction in October 2017.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

This conversation is part of KUNC's Colorado Edition for Sept. 16. Listen to the full episode here

And do you have a question about Colorado? KUNC wants to help answer it. Click here to submit a question to Curious Colorado.