Coronado Heights is a landmark hill northwest of Lindsborg, Kansas. It is alleged to be the place where Francisco Vasquez de Coronado gave up his search for the seven cities of gold and turned around to return to Mexico. The top of the 300-foot hill is capped by a park containing stone structures built by the Works Progress Administration in 1932, including a “castle”, stone picnic sites, and stone front gate. The view from the park is spectacular and people on the top can see for miles. A 3 mile mountain bicycle trail winds around the hill in a figure 8 loop, and draws cyclists from throughout the region.
On February 18th, Coronado Heights caught on fire, and with the dried grasses and brush of late winter, most of the hill was quickly consumed.
Mike Rodriquez of All the Pages Are My Days took some pictures of the fire in progress:
You can view the rest of Mike’s pictures at his Flickr site.
Mark Flynn of the Central Kansas Mountain Bike Club took some photos the next day:
This image is looking southeast over the top of the staircase with Lindsborg in the distance. You can view the rest of Mark’s photos for more details.
Brian Holdsworth, also of the CKMBC, provided this report on the state of the mountain bike trails at Coronado:
I’ve been out riding the past two days and the “trail” is in exactly the same condition it would be on any other day except that there’s practically nothing unburnt bordering approximately 70% percent of the trail. Heavily treed and shrubbed areas survived while grassy knolls with yucca and sumac made great fodder for the flames apparently. Pasture ground outside of the fence all the way around the north side (down some dozens of yards) and then all pasture from that radius and due south to the east and west are razed. Some areas in the Cemetery are also burned. In some cases the “trail” halted flames from spreading. Significant but not totally disastrous as the Hill may well regenerate beautifully in the long run. “Riding on the surface of the moon” comes to mind. It is an “uncanny” ride because the exposure level is a little alarming.
I think it’s significant to say then that the eyes will be on anyone riding out there. The amount of traffic to the hill has immediately increased mostly because people have heard about it and are curious. Coronado gets a lot of visitors anyway and we have certainly seen more families with children on the trail. We’ve seen people running the trail for training and there is “fairly regular” vehicle traffic as well. We’ve all seen some who are taking “liberties”. I’ve seen paint-ballers shooting the buildings and trash cans and people up there with 4WD’s that are generally tearing stuff up but, for the most part, people genuinely wish to enjoy the space. When need be I have expressed to any “violators” that the Hill is private property and that their tag number makes a good reference for me if I need to explain anything I’ve seen “going on” up there.
When riding I make a point of greeting people as cordially as possible (as I have slowed to “yield” the trail!). Most are pleased to step to the side to let “us” pass and I think it becomes a matter of appreciating the experience of the activity to be friendly to others who are there. I believe it’s in my best interest to interact with them and let them know that I respect their experience as well. We’re community. Coronado Heights is a very compact space, unlike most other trail systems and I, for one, feel very blessed to have it available to me. Simply a “get beyond myself” experience.
We will be looking at the trails, in their unique state, to make some new decisions about what we hope to achieve this year to improve the trail. We’ll certainly accept offers of assistance and will try to post any dates/times for organized work days.
Thanks all for the pictures and descriptions of the fire.