Column: Help Bring Back the Reverse Traverse

The storm of July 11 left the Reserve Traverse covered with soil and rock. Photo by Craig Martin

Column by Craig Martin
Volunteer Task Force

A favorite of hikers, runners, and mountain bike riders, the Reverse Traverse, also known as a section of the Perimeter Trail, is a critical connection on the network of trails west of Los Alamos in the Santa Fe National Forest.

The trail, which climbs south out of Valle Canyon to the mesas above, is on steep slope that burned hot during the Las Conchas Fire.

Volunteers stabilized the trail in April, and it was a good thing they did. During a two-inch rainstorm on July 11, 2012, soil and rocks moved with water down the slope and across the trail.

Without the work of the volunteers, the trail would have collected water that would have carved a deep gully.

The storm did leave the trail covered with soil and rock that is heavy but easy to move off the trail.

That’s what the Volunteer Task Force intends to do at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21.

A cleaned up section of the Reverse Traverse. The trail a little downslope from the orange-handled Pulaski has not been worked. Photo by Craig Martin

To see just what it will take to clean up the trail, I worked a test section on Wednesday. The soil-rock mix was compacted, so it took a Pulaski, the trail builder’s dirt ax, to loosen it up a bit.

A shovel used as a scraping tool managed the task of moving the debris off the trail.

It’s heavy material, but the work isn’t that difficult. In about 20 minutes I cleared a nasty 30-foot section of trail.

We’ve been running Saturday morning trail work sessions for the past month. Typically five to 10 volunteers come out and we make good progress.

Because this is such a popular section of trail, there are a lot of people interested in seeing it cleaned up.

If we can rally a 20-person crew this Saturday, we can clear off the 600-foot section of trail by noon. If the crew has only five workers, it will likely take several weekends to bring the trail back.

Anyone interested in helping bring back the Reverse Traverse should meet at the Cañon de Valle trailhead on West Jemez Road.

The trailhead is at a rough entrance road on the west side of the highway. Coming from Los Alamos, the entrance is a little more than a mile beyond the turnoff to the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

Volunteers should wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Bring water, a snack, and sunscreen. Tools and hard hats will be provided.

Volunteer hours will count as a match to a federal grant that provides funding for post-fire trail restoration throughout the Española Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest.

For more information, contact Craig Martin ( or Jennifer Sublett (

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