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Guffey Gorge


Guffey, Colorado

In the high country of the Colorado Rockies, The Guffey Gorge Trail provides access to a swimming hole which offers visitors an escape from the summer heat. Visitors can hike, picnic, swim, and relax with friends at this unique natural feature. However, due to its popularity, the area has seen heavy impacts from not only heavy foot traffic but visitors leaving the trail where it was narrow, undefined, or unstable. While many smaller repair and management efforts had been made it was clear a larger maintenance project was necessary. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undertook multiple projects to upgrade the parking area and the trailhead, as well as this project to improve the two steepest sections of the trail. The Pointe Strategies team of outdoor recreation planners, trail designers, and construction artists were brought on to develop a construction plan that prioritized safety, sustainable design, materials that require minimal maintenance, and improved resource conditions.

The final design facilitates visitors accessing the swimming hole in a direct route, to prevent further cross-cutting and trail braiding, while also allowing surrounding resources to restore. The team took a collaborative approach to identify desired conditions, project sideboards, visitor experiences, acceptable level of risk, and design preferences. We initially developed multiple trail alignments that explore ways to enhance sustainability, aesthetics, safety, improve the overall visitor experience, and minimize impacts to natural resources. Presenting and analyzing these alternatives with maps, conceptual illustrations and cost-benefit matrixes the team worked with BLM management to design the ideal trail alignments and construction plan. Through an iterative process working from conceptual alignments to final implementation plans the team created reports and presentations at 30, 60, and 90% refinement levels. The team relied heavily on landscape architect style conceptual illustrations to communicate the details of the final design.

Finishing the plan by flagging the trail alignments as designed the Pointe Strategies team finalized their design, handing it to our sister company Singletrack Trails to implement. The end result is a trail alignment that provides visitors to this area a fun and safe trail experience while also minimizing impacts and increasing trail durability to stand up to the ever increasing visitation.

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