Accessible trails for all: the legacy of Arthur Carhart lives on in historic Pueblo Mountain Park
The early morning sunlight filtered through the trees, casting a golden hue over the forest floor. Birds chirped and squirrels scampered as a group of bikers made their way along the newly improved Carhart Trail.
The trail was named after Arthur Carhart, a man who had a passion for preserving the beauty of nature while also making it accessible for people to enjoy. His philosophy was simple: there were portions of natural scenic beauty that were God-made and should be the property of all people.
The person leading the ride was feeling like a first timer again as the bikers began connecting with the natural world around them. Everyone in her group lived within an hour’s drive of the Pueblo Mountain Park but had never visited. Chit-chat waned as the riders began taking in whiffs of blooming wildflowers, and decaying leaves. Some slowed, captivated by the shadows of the towering ponderosa pines swaying gently in the breeze.
The park was buzzing with activity as families, hikers, bikers, and new trail users gathered in celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, and the contributions several local not-for-profits made to improve the trail.
The trail improvements had been extensive, and it was immediately noticeable. The trail was wider, smoother, and more accessible than ever before. As the group of riders made their way along the trail, they marveled at the stunning views that had once been hidden. Dead trees had been cleared away and in spots, opening views of the Wet Mountains and Beulah Valley. They all paused to take it in.
The improvements to the Carhart Trail were not just about making the trail more accessible. They were also about preserving the natural beauty of the area. The new trail had been designed to minimize its impact on the environment, with carefully placed drainage systems and erosion control measures. The trail is open to bikers, hikers, and equestrian users. Since 2018, when the trail was first constructed, it has grown in popularity.
Their 1.8-mile ride concluded at the end of the Squirrel Creek Trail, the place where public outdoor recreation as we know it began. It was here where Carhart developed the National Forest Service’s first recreational area, the Davenport campground. His work had been groundbreaking and had set the standard for future wilderness recreation development. He believed that the wilderness should be protected, but it should also be available for people to enjoy.
Carhart’s efforts were just the beginning of a larger effort to improve and protect national forests while making them more accessible.
As the bicyclists meandered their way back, they couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to explore the newly improved Carhart Trail. They knew that their experience had been made possible by the dedication and hard work of countless individuals who shared Carhart’s vision for protecting and preserving our natural world.
The preceding story is a work of fiction, but it is based on factual historical events and figures. Arthur Carhart was a real person who played a significant role in the development of the National Forest Service’s first recreational area, the Davenport Campground, located about 12 miles from Beulah, Colorado. His legacy of preserving the wilderness while making it accessible for people to enjoy lives on to this day. The story celebrates Carhart’s contributions to protecting and preserving our natural world and encourages readers to get outdoors and explore the beauty of the Pueblo Mountain Park in the Beulah Valley.
San Isabel Electric, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assoc. and Basin Electric Power Cooperative are proud to have contributed a combined $7,500 donation to the Southern Colorado Trail Builders and the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center’s efforts to improve the Carhart Trail.
As a not-for-profit cooperative utility, San Isabel Electric provides affordable, reliable electricity with exceptional service to communities throughout southern Colorado. Serving nearly 20,000 member-owners and 25,000 meters, San Isabel Electric has been keeping the lights on since 1938. We don’t just serve communities. We are part of communities.