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Sun Valley's Forbidden Fruit

Used to be that the mention of flow trails in Sun Valley, Idaho might have put people to thinking of spring run-off on the local singletrack. Nowadays, it brings to mind berms, drops, rollers, and skinnys. How did this change come about?  Through the dedication and hard work of a group of land managers, riders, designers, and builders.

Renee Catherine, Trail Coordinator for the Ketchum Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest, and John Kurtz, Recreation Planner for the BLM Shoshone Field Office are two of the driving forces behind the development of free-riding in the valley. Catherine and Kurtz have spearheaded efforts to bring riders together to discuss what they are interested in seeing developed, and they have sought out the help of experts to better understand new trends in bicycling. This collaborative and front-loaded approach to recreation planning has made a huge impact on how trails are developed here.

Most recently, the BLM opened Punchline Trail in Croy Canyon - the second of two flow trails the BLM has built near Sun Valley in the last two years. In the nearby national forest, Catherine and her crew are putting the finishing touches on a new flow trail called Forbidden Fruit (it's in Eve Gulch). These trails signal that new riding experiences are available here.

The time frame for getting the Forbidden Fruit Trail from concept to finished trail has been brief. In the spring of 2010 this trail was just an idea. 15 months later it is built and just about to be opened to the public.

Local rider and trail advocate Greg Martin, representing the Blaine County Recreation District and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition, had the idea that Eve's Gulch would be a good place for a new flow trail. Whistler, B.C. trail designer Duncan MacKenzie was brought into the mix early in the design process. According to Catherine, MacKenzie was just the shot of adrenaline that the project required. “Duncan was the inspiration we needed whenever it looked like we were about to hit a wall – he was forever giving us a thumbs-up signal,” said Catherine.

Cooperation between agencies was again evident when the construction was about to start on Forbidden Fruit. The BLM was just wrapping up construction of Punchline. One of the machine operators on the project was the BLM's Tom McCown (Tom is one of the best Sweco operators around). Kurtz helped arrange to make Tom's services available to the Forbidden Fruit project. The project still needed a skilled mini-excavator operator. Catherine knew of an expert trail builder/machine operator on the Payette National Forest – she was able to get John Groom to come to her district to work on the trail.

Randy Spangler (IMBA Trail Solutions Trail Specialist and free-rider extraordinaire) was brought in to do the final design and help lead the construction team. Ketchum Ranger District Trail Crew boss Blake Everson led the hand work on Forbidden Fruit. He was kept busy overseeing his own crew, two Northwest Youth Corp teams, and a slew of volunteers on digging, raking, packing, bridge building, and log-ride construction.

Two National Forests, the BLM, the Northwest Youth Corp, the Wood River Bicycle Coalition, IMBA Trail Solutions, and various other groups, agencies, and individuals contributed to make these new and exciting developments happen in Sun Valley.

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