It’s not easy pedaling up to Star Pass, but riders today have a much smoother climb than they did ten years ago before the Crystal Peak Trail reroute took shape. Thanks to the hard work of the US Forest Service, CBMBA Board members, and hordes of volunteers, the ascent up Crystal Peak Trail is pedalable from the Cement Creek approach to the connection with Trail 400, which tops out at over 12,300 ft.
(Note: This article only pertains to the section of Crystal Peak Trail #583 between the start of the climb on Cement Creek Road to the saddle, as the section between the saddle and the intersection with Trail 400 is located within the White River National Forest.)
The Crystal Peak Trail was originally a motorized and deeply-eroded fall line trail in the upper Cement Creek drainage. On top of that, the erosion coming off of this unsustainable trail was contributing to increased sediment entering Cement Creek itself. Parallel trails were being created by users, as the initial trail was too rutted to navigate in several sections. Partly due to advocacy efforts of CBMBA, the 2010 GMUG Travel Management Plan reclassified Crystal Peak as a non-motorized trail, and at that point CBMBA began getting involved with the realignment.
These were the days before CBMBA had its own trail crew. Superstar CBMBA Volunteer and Board Member Matt Whiting applied for a Resource Advisory Council (RAC) Grant in 2012 and a Sustainable Trails Project Grant in 2015 to fund USFS trail crews to complete realignment and restoration work on several trails, including Crystal Peak Trail.
During the summers of 2013-14, USFS trail crews under the leadership of Greg Austin and Joe Laughlin completed significant reroutes on the upper and lower sections of Crystal Peak Trail. In August 2016, CBMBA organized a massive volunteer effort for the Annual Overnight Work Weekend, where approximately 70 volunteers attended to camp out in the upper Cement Creek basin and complete a huge reroute the middle section of the trail. This involved cutting in two ornery switchbacks, completing some serious bench cutting across very steep terrain, and installing many drainage systems to keep runoff from flowing down the newly built track and destroying it.
CBMBA’s Riders Off the Road trail plan includes completing the entire Cement Creek Trail from Crystal Peak Pass to the bottom of Caves Trail. After the completion of the Middle Cement Creek Trail this fall, the last remaining sections are connecting Upper Cement to Crystal Peak Trail and Lower Cement to the Caves parking area. The result will be nearly 14 miles of trail that parallels Cement Creek Road and keeps Riders Off the Road.