City enlists county help in maintenance of trails

How Trail Mix is expanding its walking, biking paths

Snowy conditions on trails around Grand County, such as the Lower Porcupine Singletrack shown here, led local trail maintainers to recommend riders avoid higher elevation trails in a social media post on March 23.
Photo courtesy of Moab Trail Mix

Moab City Council representatives voted Tuesday, March 26 to enlist the Grand County Division of Active Transportation and Trails to maintain and develop the city’s trails, primarily along Mill Creek.

“You certainly have the political will on this council to get visionary,” said Mayor Emily Niehaus during a preliminary meeting with the trails staff.

Maddie Logowitz and Tyson Swasey are the division manager and operations coordinator of GCDATT, respectively. They oversee the maintenance and development of roughly 200 cumulative miles of public hiking, biking, equestrian and ski trails in Grand County and now Moab, and they have big plans for improvements.

Logowitz and Swasey recently applied for grant funding to create bike skills areas along Moab’s Mill Creek trail. The proposed project is part of an ongoing effort to connect Moab residents with the local trail system.

The trails staff has also been using the Moab Trail Mix Facebook page to post weekly “mud reports,” which provide updates on local trail conditions. The reports are part of an effort to reduce the erosion and rutting of local trails, particularly bike trails.

How the division works

GCDATT came into management by Grand County (at the end of 2018) after its inception as part of the Canyonlands Natural History Association. The Grand County Trail Mix Committee oversees and advises the division and consists of various stakeholder representatives, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Department of Transportation and others.

BLM directs funding to GCDATT in exchange for maintenance of trails on BLM land, and a similar arrangement exists with the U.S. Forest Service, which GCDATT assists in trail management.

Most days of the week during the tourism season, Logowitz, Swasey or one of three seasonal GCDATT staff members are outside maintaining trails, clearing debris, repairing washed-out sections and more.

“It’s generally 90 to 110 miles a day of driving getting out to the trail, and then it’s a cumulative 24 miles of [bike] riding,” Swasey said about maintaining the local trails.

When they’re not outside responding to emergency maintenance tasks such as fallen trees or rocks, the trails division staff is working on future plans for improvement. Namely, Logowitz and Swasey are updating the 2011 trails master plan to account for changes in use to the trails over the last eight years.

Future plans

One way GCDATT is informing its planning efforts is by using GPS data collected by Strava, a social fitness network, to see how people are actually using the local trails.

Strava users track the path of their runs using one of the company’s apps. At the request of any public transportation or planning group, data relevant to the local entity can be anonymized, aggregated and shared to inform governmental decisions about active transportation infrastructure.

GCDATT is also taking notes from Cache County’s master plan, which Logowitz said has been nominated for an award for excellence in design.