“Eighty percent of trail building can be done with a pick mattock, the rest can be done with a keen eye for detail.” To that we’d add a good bit of sweat and a strong back. Thankfully, Will Dutcher is happy to shed the former while utilizing the latter to keep our growing network of trails in tip-top shape for our community to enjoy and explore as Sheridan Community Land Trust’s Trails Program Manager.
Will said his passion for trails dates to his early days studying at the University of Wyoming, where he applied to serve with the Wyoming Conservation Corps to “spend time working outside over my summer break.”
“As a crew member, I first learned about trail building and maintenance. From there, I started to grow my passion for conservation work, including sustainable trails,” he explained. It’s also where he developed his keen eye and “picky” philosophy. “My favorite part about working on trails is finding the balance between art and science that makes a trail as good as it can be,” he relayed. “Having the mountains of Wyoming for my office is not too bad either.” What does Will mean when he says “finding a balance between art and science?” “The artistic side of trail construction comes from using the landscape to make the trail as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Even during construction, small details matter in how the trail looks and feels to the end-user. The scientific side is more cut and dry when it comes to trail grades, tread width, and downslope. It is important to include the technical detail as well as the artistic detail to construct a trail system that is sustainable and pleasing,” he explained.
That balance will serve Will well as he performs finish work on new trails, maintains SCLT’s growing network of community trails and leads the efforts of many enthusiastic trail lovers who kindly share their time as volunteers and Trail Ambassadors. Though Will is relatively new to Sheridan County, he’s already familiar with the trails because he was part of the WCC crew who helped build the lower loops accessible from Base Trailhead at Red Grade Trails and, later, Hidden Hoot Trail. He ranks SCLT’s trails among the state’s finest, right alongside those at Pole Mountain/Happy Jack and Curt Gowdy State Park.
“SCLT trail systems are exemplary,” he asserted. “They are some of the best in the state in terms of usability, overall aesthetics and interconnectedness.” And by working on trails Wyo-wide and South Dakota’s Black Hills, Will’s someone who knows a good trail from experience.
Soon, our beautiful Bighorns backyard will be one of Will’s main offices – an office where he plans to work and play by using local trails for mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and rock climbing. Will is especially eager to learn more about climbing opportunities in the Bighorns and to meet our community of passionate trail users in Sheridan County. Why? Because our community’s passionate trail users are a treasure trove of helpful insight and experience. “I’m always looking to the folks who use the SCLT trails often for insight on areas of concern or what they would like to see happen on their local trail system,” he offered.
With Mud Season just around the corner, Will also wanted to remind everyone of an important way to keep the trails they love sustainable: If you’re leaving tracks, please turn around and head back.
“Don’t use wet, muddy trails. If a small section of the trail is muddy or has a puddle, DO NOT go around – go through,” he concluded. If you have some tips on climbing in the Bighorns, know of some trail trouble spots or would just give a hearty welcome to Will, please email him at Will@SheridanCLT.org or visit any one of our community trails. View & print maps at https://sheridanclt.org/recreation/maps/.