January 13, 2012

The end of the CDTA

I just got an email (read it here) from the Continental Divide Trail Alliance that says they are ceasing operations, which is a shame, since the CDT is IMO potentially the coolest trail in the United States.

I do wonder how well the organization was run, though. Despite getting lots of pleas for donations and literature from the CDTA, I never really felt that I was connected to the trail in any way – partially because it’s not clear to me where the trail even *goes* exactly in Colorado. I know the general gist of it, but when I hear “CDT” I don’t think of any specific sections that I love or hate, or parts that I hope will be constructed soon. It seems to me that the CDTA did a pretty poor job making the trail relevant to the people who live near/on it, and without local support, it’s hard to make something so long and involved into a concrete reality.

In contrast, when you mention the Colorado Trail, most mountain bikers eyes will light up (even many who don’t live in the state). Everyone’s got a favorite section (and least favorite) and the route is well marked and pretty well maintained as well. The trail joins destinations that people actually want to go to (Denver-Durango, with stops in the South Platte, Breck, Salida, etc) Maybe that’s a function of A) the shorter distance) and B) the much higher population densities in CO as compared to WY, MT, and NM. Or maybe the CDT needed to be less about following the actual continental divide and more about linking locations that make good travel destinations, while sticking with the general north-south theme.

In any case, it’s sad to see the organization die, but with the growing popularity of outdoor sports in general, and mountain biking in particular, I think the momentum still exists to improve and connect the sections of the trail that exist. Only time will tell.