This GARNA chapter consists of volunteers from the motorized and non-motorized recreational communities who have special concern for the 100,000 acre Forest Service/BLM area in northern Chaffee County called the Fourmile Travel Management Area. The overall goal is good stewardship of the land’s resources (meaning a minimum of direct and indirect impacts) and maintenance of a balance among various recreational uses.
Our specific objectives are to assist the BLM and USFS in implementing the area’s citizen-formulated Fourmile Travel Management Plan, including to assure quality recreational opportunities continue to be available for a wide variety of users maintain and improve the area’s natural resources help resolve conflicts between users ensure that all types of recreational users and private landowners continue to be involved in the area’s management.
Friends of Fourmile is non-partisan with respect to favoring or promoting one type of recreational activity over another (e.g. motorized or non-motorized). It is focused simply on helping the land managing agencies implement their approved travel management plan, which is itself the product of a long public process involving all types of user groups.
Become a Friends of Fourmile Chapter member
Join GARNA! Fill out the application, and check the box for enrolling as a Friends of Fourmile Chapter member. You will still receive all the benefits of general GARNA membership but will also be included in Chapter notifications of meetings, work dates and special Fourmile events.
Downloadable Brochures and Maps
You can read or download the following interpretive brochures, which include each area’s history, major features, things to do and a map.
- Fourmile Brochure May, 2017 version
- Midland Brochure May, 2015 version
- Whipple Brochure May, 2015 version
Also available are the most recent versions of maps without the interpretive material. The Fourmile map covers the entire area whereas the Midland and Whipple maps provide detailed coverage of these specific trail systems. These map-only files are most convenient to download to a mobile device or to print.
Simplified instructions on getting the Fourmile map on your smartphone – see below.
The 2015 Fourmile map is now available in Geo-referenced format for use on GPS-capable smartphones. Once loaded on a phone, the user’s location can be followed even if there is no internet connection.
Click the first link below to download the instructions on installing the free Avenza PDF maps app needed to activate the Fourmile map. (This map also covers trails in the northern half of the new Browns Canyon National Monument.)
Click on the second link to download the Geo-referenced map only if you are choosing the Dropbox option for importing it into the PDF maps app.
Midland and Whipple maps are NOT geo-referenced and are not compatible with Avenza PDF maps. However, as explained in the instructions, topographic quadrangles are available for free from the Avenza PDF maps store. Particularly if you plan any off-trail hiking, we recommend that you also download the appropriate topo map so you could select it in the Avenza PDF map list when the Fourmile map does not provide enough detail. Fourmile area topo quads include Marmot Peak, Buena Vista East, Castle Rock Gulch, Nathrop and Cameron Mountain.
Please remember GPS devices including smartphones will not function if battery power fails. A printed topographic map or hard copy of the Fourmile map is always recommended as backup. Cell phone connection is not reliable, so be prepared to deal with unexpected developments. Neither GARNA nor Friends of Fourmile assume any liability for your use of this map.
To review highlights of our activities 2014-2016 and earlier, please click on an archive link below:
Chapter HIGHLIGHTS Spring 2016-Summer 2017
Here’s a list of the major activities and accomplishments of the Friends of Fourmile spring 2016 through summer 2017. For a detailed report, please go here.
Memorial Day Visitor Use trends (They’re UP…)
After conducting annual Memorial Day surveys for nearly a decade, the not-surprising conclusion is that overall visitation in Fourmile on that peak weekend has increased considerably-at least doubled. Although visitation is much less on other weekends, and even less during the week, proportionately similar overall trends have occurred. Primarily increases were noted in the use of OHVs (ATVs and motorcycles) and particularly in the past several years, the wider multiple passenger OHVs known as side-by-sides. Campsites associated with OHV use have increased in total number and existing campsites expanded as much as five-fold. Use by mountain bikes on the expanding trail system, and in camping associated with biking as well as general hiking, has also increased.
Because of its nine-year span, and since it covers virtually all of Fourmile’s 220+ camping sites and 130+ miles of two-track roads in in a single 5-6 hour period, the FoF annual survey has created a database that is probably more comprehensive and detailed than any available for other Forest Service or BLM areas in Colorado. It allows the Friends group, and the two agencies, to identify resource problems and issues and on-going or potential conflicts between users. It is a powerful tool that will aid in eventually revising the joint Travel Management Plan for Fourmile. To look at some of the data yourself, and read analysis of what it means, go to this link.
New mapping tool (monitoring use in the digital/satellite age…)
In the 14 years since the Friends have been patrolling and monitoring, a large amount of information has been gathered concerning condition of the area’s natural resources and the location and changes in its roads, camping sites and areas of special concern. It has been a challenge to keep track of all this in ways that can easily be updated and shared with the agencies we are assisting. Over the past year we have been gradually entering our information on “platforms” like Google Earth which allow us – and our agency partners – to quickly see exactly where things are occurring and where corrections in management may be needed. This is a work in progress but currently we are working to accurately portray all the official system routes, spur roads, trailheads, private lands, motorized and non-motorized trails, special features and camping sites. Here’s one example of a ”layer” of information we can display: all the known 220+ camping sites.
Major reprinting and updates of brochures and kiosk (entry) maps
A major contribution the Friends make to the Forest Service and BLM is to produce, update and distribute information about Fourmile. This is done under their review and supervision, and printing costs are typically provided by the agencies, but over the years hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours have been contributed by Friends with professional credentials in graphic design, photography, writing and editing. The 2017 year saw major revisions in the Fourmile brochure and in all three of the area’s large entry and trailhead maps (Fourmile, Midland Bike Trail, and Whipple Trail). Some 18,000 Fourmile brochures were printed (enough for three seasons) and new maps installed in 16+ locations.
Midland Bicycle Trail Signs Refreshed
Although several local volunteer and Buena Vista Town groups are involved with the 18-mile-long Midland Bike Trail, for more than 13 years the Friends have been providing the signing, mapping, and brochures. This summer saw an overdue replacement of some 30 distinctive logo trail markers, repainting of posts, and annual brush trimming.
Major Fourmile Trails Rerouted – new trails proposed on BLM
Although trail rerouting and new trails in the Buena Vista Whipple trail system and Fourmile have been underway for several years, 2017 was a milestone which saw several volunteer-driven projects completed. Friends of Fourmile has been very involved in planning, design and ultimately the hard workday labor to bring this about. With strong leadership from the BV town staff and a new coalition called BV Trails, the BLM approved several miles to be added to the Whipple system, which is now under construction under supervision from the Colorado Mountain Club. A longer-term project to create some 12 new miles of hiking and biking trails and 6 miles of motorized singletrack has been created with community support and submitted to the BLM.