The Sherpa Trail was once a prominent pedestrian corridor on the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS) Campus. The trail linked student housing with the main campus by traversing a hillside on the north end of the campus. Frequent storm events, steep trail grades and underlying bedrock compounded to cause progressive erosion of the previous crusher fines trail until it was deemed unsafe for student travel and closed by campus staff in 2015.
THK was contracted by UCCS to redesign approximately 400 linear feet the Sherpa Trail to improve drainage, reduce erosion and design a resilient sustainable trail with a low environmental impact. The Sherpa Trail alignment has an average 15% slope and exposed bedrock on the hillside contributes to increased destructive runoff during storm events. In order to ensure long term sustainability, it was essential to separate the natural drainage patterns in this area with the new trail surface.
THK used U.S. Forest Service standards and details to design an elevated boardwalk system that steps up the hillside and maintains a minimum six inch separation from the bottom of the boardwalk to the top of the exposed bedrock, allowing natural drainage patterns and environmental function to remain while providing a safe route for pedestrian travel up the steep grade. Informational signage was installed in four locations along the route to educate visitors on the unique environmental conditions of this area and new recreational programing aims to increase trail usage and further connect students with their environment on the UCCS campus.