Current & Future Projects

2017 Field Season Results

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative is proud to report that it had an extremely successful 2017 field season. Additional financial support from the National Forest Foundation’s Find Your Fourteener campaign helped advance CFI’s trail stewardship work while addressing capacity gaps and initiating new collaborative stewardship approaches. Below you will find more details about the work completed in 2017.


Mount Elbert

CFI’s five crew leaders, working in conjunction with two Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) crews, began work on the first season of a multi-year trail construction project on the Southeast slopes of Mount Elbert. The project was separated into two basecamps. The lower crew worked on the lower section of new trail reroute out of a basecamp near the trailhead. The second crew worked on the upper rerouted sections starting near timberline. This was the first season that CFI and RMYC utilized a “peak apprentice” position to coordinate communications and work objectives between the two weekday crews and the weekend volunteer groups led by CFI’s Adopt-a-Peak crew.

The CFI crew working below treeline focused its efforts on cutting new tread through the Aspen groves. By the end of August they had constructed 8,100 feet (1.5 miles) of new trail. Construction on the lower section progressed more quickly than predicted and the new trail reroute officially opened to the public on August 9th. This allowed crew members to close the old, steep, socially-created route and focus efforts on stabilization and restoration. CFI’s crew working on the upper slopes of the trail performed more technical new trail construction work. This crew constructed 3,748 feet (0.71 miles) of new trail.

CFI’s Adopt-a-Peak crew led 14 volunteer trail stewardship projects on Mount Elbert and directed 258 individual volunteers. These projects engaged a total of 577 days of volunteer labor! Volunteer labor was primarily directed toward the restoration of the severely eroded social trail and their efforts helped to restore more than 400 linear feet of trail and install 121 resto log checks. The restoration work completed by both staff and volunteers totaled 5,380 square feet.

Mount Columbia

CFI’s five-person fixed-site team, working in conjunction with a six-person Southwest Conservation Corp (SCC), crew began the second of five-planned seasons on this new trail construction project. This season the crew moved further into the alpine tundra and farther away from the source materials necessary to construct staircases and soil retention structures. To successfully complete this new section of trail, the crew utilized a grip hoist and cable rigging system to move materials from the upper slopes of the mountain to the worksite below.

After four full months working with the highline rigging system the crew mastered the art of flying large rocks across the steep mountainside. In total, the crew moved 262 rocks to be used for retaining walls and 42 rocks to be used for steps. The volume of material moved by the crew this season using the tripod and tram system totaled 642 cubic feet – equal to 8 large dumpsters filled to the brim. The total volume of material moved by the crew members (by hand and with the rigging system) was 4,244 cubic feet – enough material to fill 13 dump trucks! The crew constructed 1,800 feet (0.34 miles) of new trail, built 265 linear feet of retaining walls, installed 93 rock steps, and constructed 576 linear feet of mono wall.

Thank you to the following groups for funding this project:

Colorado State Trails Program

Gates Family Foundation

Richard Hoffman

National Forest Foundation


Golden Civic Foundation

Chaffee County

Town of Buena Vista


Quandary Peak

CFI’s two-person mini-maintenance crew returned to Quandary Peak for a second season of intensive trail reconstruction. Working in conjunction with a RMYC “peak apprenctice“, the crew maintained 8,345 feet (1.58 miles) of trail – with much of the work being completed above 13,000 feet in elevation. In addition, the two-person crew restored 203 square feet of alpine tundra and educated 2,910 hikers about the fragile alpine environment.

While the fixed-site crew focused their efforts on the upper reaches of the peak, CFI’s Adopt-a-Peak crew and volunteers focused on installing timber restoration features below treeline. A total of 22 volunteer projects were held on Quandary Peak in 2017. These projects engaged 280 individual volunteers who worked a total of 334 days. These amazing volunteers helped to maintain 6,495 feet (1.23 miles) of trail, restore 940 square feet of alpine tundra, and install more than 120 log check steps.

Thank you to the following groups for funding this project:

National Forest Foundation

Gates Family Foundation

Vail Resorts


The Summit Foundation

Town of Breckenridge

Town of Silverthorne

Adopt-a-Peak Crew

This year CFI’s eight-person Adopt-a-Peak crew hosted more than 70 volunteer projects on 18 peaks across the state. These projects engaged an all-time record high number of volunteer trail stewardship days – 946 individuals contributed 1,952 days. This 25% increase over the previous record (1,566 days) accounts for more than $400,000 of in-kind labor provided by volunteers. More than half of the volunteers engaged this summer were youth or young adults.

These 70 volunteer projects helped to maintain 53,836 feet (10.20 miles) of trail, restore 6,458 square feet of eroded or denuded tundra, and educate 8,677 hikers about alpine-specific Leave No Trace ethics! We are extremely humbled and forever grateful for the hands-on support we receive from the 14er community. These record-breaking results would not be possible without your hard work!

Thank you to the following groups for funding this project:

Colorado State Trails Program

Pitkin County

Aspen Skiing Company Environment Foundation

City of Aspen

Kimberly Appelson Internship Endowment

Sustainable Trails Program

The baseline data collection effort that was conducted in 2011-13 is now finished and published as the 14er Report Card. In 2017, veteran crew leader Tom Cronin returned to capture baseline data on 11 peaks that were not initially inventoried in Phase I. Tom also started the re-inventory process and collected secondary data on 11 peaks to help CFI determine how on-the-ground conditions are improving or degrading over time. In total, Tom collected data on 17 different routes (22 peaks) and assessed 5,265 data points over 83.1 miles of trail. He hiked 250 miles and gained more than 88,000 vertical feet in just four months! A huge thank you goes out to Myles and David at Compass Tools, Inc. for donating the software and trimble equipment and sharing their expertise to help CFI complete this project!

In July 2017, CFI released the second edition of its “14er Hiking Use and Economic Impact” report which estimated that 311,000 hiker use days occurred on Colorado’s 14ers in 2016 – a 19% increase over 2015. This information was then paired with research done by CSU professors John Loomis and Catherine Keske – which found that Fourteener climbers in 2009 spent an average of $271.17 per trip (food, equipment, lodging, etc.) to reveal a statewide economic impact of $84.3 million generated by 14er hikers annually. Follow the link above to learn more about hiking use trends and see the methods used to compile this data.

Photo: Brian Downloading Traffic Data
Report: 14er Hiking Use and Economic Impact

Photo: Tom Gathering Trail Conditions Data

Report: 14er Report Card