Fountain Valley’s magnificent 1,100 acres of rolling prairie now has 12 new miles of shared-use and purpose-built trails, offering the community greater access to this prized resource. The trail system was designed by Tony Boone who is renowned in the mountain biking world for building exciting and sustainable trails.
Land Manager Tyson Phillip says,
“The idea was conceived four years ago to create a multi-use trail system that is more refined and developed than the roads and paths that existed. The goal is an extensive trail for mountain bikers, nature lovers, hikers, runners—and classes, of course—with easy access points around campus.”
In 2016, a grant from the F. Charles Froelicher Donor Advised Fund helped set the project in motion. Chuck Froelicher is Founding Headmaster Francis Froelicher’s nephew. A former headmaster himself at Colorado Academy in Denver, he was an avid and lifelong outdoorsman.
▲ A section of newly-tilled trail that is a part of a 12 mile loop on the front and back Prairie on the FVS campus.
The School brought Boone to campus in 2017. Since 1983, his life’s work has been building trails, and he has led crews in sculpting more than 600 miles of them across the country and globe. This includes the newly constructed popular Bluestem Prairie trail system that is just across the street from FVS, frequented by the Danes mountain bike team and many faculty.
Boone walked the prairie with Phillips and drew up a map of connecting stacked-loop trails. He says that this configuration “offers many combinations of length and difficulty for hikers, runners and mountain bikers.”
Boone capitalized on the generous vistas of Pikes Peak that the prairie offers, as well as views of the School’s unique adobe campus. The prairie also presented a few challenges that needed to be circumvented, such as irrigation ditches, sandy soils in areas, and poorly drained swamp zones.
The trail building is now in year four, and much has been accomplished. There are new access points to the prairie where signs have been erected. Three culverts were installed to help drain the wet areas. The trails were first mowed to Boone’s plan and have recently been tilled to even out the surface and create a consistent trail width. The next step is packing down the dirt. In addition, unnecessary roads and trails that are not part of the master trail plan will be dug up, and native plants will be reestablished.
Head of School Will Webb, who is a dedicated mountain biker and outdoorsman, says, “This trail system opens up the prairie for our community to appreciate all 1,100 acres of its beauty and biodiversity. The opportunities this presents for learning, recreating and simply getting out in nature are a gift to us all.
▲ New Trails at the south entrance by the Athletic Fields