Through the use of a State of Utah, RTP grant, the Heber-Kamas Ranger District has made significant improvements to the Notch Mountain Trail in the first year of the multi-year grant. This trail is one of the most popular trails within the state of Utah. It is not uncommon to see over 1,000 people a day on the lower sections of the western end of the trail.
This past summer (2013) we had a couple of hurdles to climb. While it was one of the warmest summers on record in the Salt Lake Valley, it was one of the wettest summers on record in the project area. It seemed like every afternoon from middle of July till the end of September we received measurable rain. In the middle of July, the east end of the notch received 7 inches of rain in 24 hour period. It caused a landslide to go over the trail numerous times just east of the notch; flooded the trail crew’s base camp, and created new ponds that did not exist before the storm. Then, the same weekend that Boulder, CO. received their heavy rain; we also received moisture that made trail work up nearly impossible for a week. Finally, a system went through in early September that dumped 18 inches of rain in eight days. Through all of this, we were still able to make significant improvements throughout the trail. We just had to improvise every day! The other hurdle involved purchasing our corduroy – which is material that is used to build bridges. Due to our acquisitions process, we did not receive our corduroy from the mill until September 4th. Luckily we still had plenty of rock work to accomplish. In fact, rough estimates are that we probably moved around 5 million pounds of rock out of the tread by hand. This work was accomplished with the US Forest Service trail crew, Backcountry Horsemen of Utah and various youth groups.
In summary, we were successful in accomplishing half of the work within the project area this summer (2013) with the other half planned for summer of 2014. We improved the tread from Crystal Lake Trailhead all the way to the Main Fork of the Weber Cutoff (Approx. 4 miles), except a quarter of a mile before Wall Lake. We saved this section for volunteer groups next year. We also improved approximately the first mile of tread from the Bald Mountain Trailhead. Throughout this section we created numerous rock structures such as steps, overlapping steps, crib walls, and causeways. Within this four mile section, we also enlarged every switchback to make them climbing turns. During the period of very wet weather in September, we had some extra gravel from another project that we used for the first 700 ft. of trail. The only work that was not completed in the first five miles of trail are five corduroy bridges that we will build next summer.