Sean Murphy, the Trails and Wilderness Coordinator for the Flagstaff District of the Coconino National Forest, let us tag along on a condition survey hike of Little Bear Trail this week.
As you peruse these photos, know that these are indicative of the condition of almost all of the trail, not a few select locations.
The bad news:
There is a significant amount of sloughing on almost all of the tread. The trail is completely gone every time that it crosses any sort of drainage. There are rocks and other debris strewn along all of the tread. These conditions will continue until a significant amount of vegetation reestablishes itself along these hill sides. There are some other scenarios that have not played out yet that will cause additional issues, such as the decaying of the root systems of the thousands of trees on this mountain. It will be a while before we are able to help the Forest Service to even begin repairing this trail.
The good news:
This trail should be salvageable on its current alignment. There will hopefully be money available to repair this and the other trails in the Schultz Fire Area through the BAER program, (Burned Area Emergency Response). There is vegetation beginning to take root all along the trail (note the photo of the little aspens!). There is a bunch of new trail being built in Ft. Valley and the Fisher Point areas that we can explore over the next few seasons, and even without Little Bear, Little Elden, and Deer Hill Trail, Flagstaff still has some of the best mountain biking in the West!
We will all need to be patient over the next few years. The Flagstaff District Recreation staff is very concerned with the rehabilitation of these trails. We look forward to assisting them in any way we can to get this work done as soon as it makes sense to do so.
Feel free to contact Sean Murphy with the Forest Service at (928) 526-0866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.