Mammoth Lakes Trail System- Maintenance Program
The Mammoth Lakes Trail System (MLTS) has a robust and multifaceted trail maintenance program that operates during non-snow months. The goal of this program is to keep system trails and facilities in optimal condition, improving the user experience and minimizing impacts to the environment. Harsh winter conditions combined with heavy summer time use create various maintenance issues each season. These issues range from downed trees to sunken trail treads and broken signs. The MLTS trail crew employs sustainable trail design principles when constructing new trails and when reconstructing problem areas on existing trails. Sustainably built trails require little to no maintenance because they shed water without creating erosional damage. The MLTS trail crew is constantly upgrading our trail system to be more sustainable and maintenance free. This hard work and stewardship allows more time and resources to be allocated toward constructing more fun, well designed, public access multi-use trails for our community and the region.
The Mammoth Lakes Trail System operating area for maintenance consists of all trails and pathways within the Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal boundary. The Trail System is made up of a 30 mile network of soft surface trails and 18 miles of paved pathways. Each Spring, Mammoth Lakes Trail System crew members are deployed to assess the trail facilities using GIS tools to record issues/problems through photographs and notes. These recorded issues populate an interactive map that can be used to help prioritize the seasons work projects. During the annual facilities assessment, crew members identify fallen trees, broken signs, and erosion issues that have developed over time.
The MLTS trail maintenance crew is staffed by 4-5 seasonal employees who work full time during the non-snow work season. This strong crew is supported by CALFIRE inmate crews on an as needed basis. These CDCR/CALFIRE crews are well suited for trail work, the MLTS has a standing request for crews and as they become available they travel up to town from their permanent camp in Round Valley. These crews come equipped with their own tools and food as well as the experience and knowledge to operate chainsaws to safely fell hazard trees. While particularly useful for cutting new trails, these crews can be very efficient at assisting with large maintenance projects as well.
The MLTS trail maintenance program has been operating in earnest since the summer of 2016. During the Summer of 2016 the MLTS trail crew completed major trail maintenance projects on the Mountain View Trail, Panorama Dome Trail and Mammoth Rock Trail. The Summer of 2017 was largely spent constructing the Meadow Trail Connector and the Mammoth Rock Connector Trail. The Summer of 2018 was incredibly successful with several herculean projects completed in the Mammoth Lakes basin. The trail crew was hard at work on the Duck Pass Trail for several weeks rebuilding the trail tread. Years of hard use by pack animals and guided pack rides had left this trail in dire shape with trail tread sunken in places over 3 feet below its original level. Much work was done to refill these trenched out trails and bring the tread back to its original level. Other Projects for the 2018 summer included erosion mitigation measures on the Heart Lake trail and the Mammoth Pass trail. On both of these trails, check steps were installed in high use areas to improve the trail experience as well as to mitigate erosion and prevent future maintenance issues. During the summer of 2019 MLTS trail crew focused their efforts on the Multi Use Path System. A multitude of cracks had formed in the asphalt pathway and MLTS trail crew teamed up with TOML road crew to seal these cracks and smooth out the path experience. Also in 2019 trail crew teamed up with Inyo National Forest staff and CALFIRE crews to remove a large broken footbridge on the Horseshoe Lake Loop and replace it. Another great project in 2019 was the Panorama Dome Reroute, trail crew constructed a new half mile trail segment to replace an unsustainable alignment of the original trail. The crew used sustainable trail design principles to mitigate erosion and water issues and create a fun and sustainable new trail alignment. This effort will save countless maintenance hours in the future.