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Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area

Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area is a dramatic and beautiful 500+acre area surrounded on three sides by public land near Fairplay, Colorado. In 2014, with the generous support of the community, MALT purchased 92 critical acres as part of a multi-phase project. This effort ensures the continuing ongoing scientific research conducted by more than a hundred scientists for over 45 years - one of the longest term alpine research sites in the country.   

Pika Trail News


Scientific research continues on MALT's property. The acquisition of nearby Sacramento Creek Ranch solidifies MALT's presence in Park County.


Trailhead kiosk and interpretive signage was installed near the parking on October 5, 2018.


Through generous grant support from The Summit Foundation, MALT will continue its work to make improvements to the Pika Trail, including the construction of a trailhead kiosk and informational signage.


MALT continued to add to the Pika Trail at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area near Fairplay, CO this summer with a trail building weekend on August 20-21. For this family stewardship experience, MALT along with an outstanding team of nearly 100 people from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) finished building the “Pika Trail” on the Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area. An additional 3/4 mile to the trail was added to the 2015 trail. A staggering 1,279 volunteer hours were logged on this job, and we are extremely grateful to our partners at VOC, Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center and South Park National Heritage Area for their help and support on this amazing project. Building a trail in less than ideal weather conditions, on rocky and difficult terrain was no easy feat, and we are proud to have accomplished our goal this summer

A very grateful thank you to all the trail building volunteers, the staff and crew leaders from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center and BPEEC Executive Director Kevin Hosman, Bob and Jill White at Bristlecone View Ranch.


MALT partnered with the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) and other organizations to design and build a trail at the Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area. Over a two-day weekend, August 29th and 30th, volunteers worked on constructing a loop trail on MALT's property. It is the first scenic and educational outdoor trail MALT has initiated on its 92 acre parcel for public hiking and snowshoeing access. During the two day project, there were 75 trail building volunteers each day working within diverse geographic habitats around tree line at 11,500 feet.

A number of families were able to join this project while their young ones enjoyed a full day of activities at the nearby Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center (BPEEC). On the way to the trail project , the under 12 year olds were dropped off at Beaver Ponds where they learned about agriculture sustainability, alternative energy and ecology. They were also able to spend time hanging out with the Beaver Ponds alpacas and llamas!

The weekend campsite location was an incredible donation by Bob White on his beautiful Bristlecone View Ranch surrounded by aspen trees with the scenic Mosquito Range mountain views in the background. Bob held two Conservation Easements on his property with MALT since 2011.

A very grateful thank you to all the trail building volunteers, the staff and crew leaders from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center and BPEEC Executive Director Kevin Hosman, Bob and Jill White at Bristlecone View Ranch and MALT Seasonal Intern Roland Kiessling who made this project possible. Thank you!

High Altitude Scientific Research at Pennsylvania Mountain

“As scientists, without a baseline we cannot measure change. MALT’s purchase of 92 acres on Pennsylvania Mountain has protected a unique alpine ecosystem where we have that historical baseline. It's made all the difference in our research on bumble bees and will allow scientists in the future to see how the changes we’ve observed continue to unfold.” - Dr. Candace Galen, Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Missouri. 

Research at Pennsylvania Mountain published in Science magazine!

June 2017

We are buzzing with excitement here! Research conducted in part at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area is now in Science magazine! MALT Ambassador Dr. Candace Galen and her fellow scientists have published their research article “Flight of the bumble bee: Buzzes predict pollination services” on June 7, 2017. Dr. Galen, a professor at the University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences, has been involved in research at Penn Mountain for several decades. Each year, she selects two research interns who along with conducting scientific research at Penn Mountain also lead MALT guided hikes and discuss their work. Both Izze Hedrick (Elizabeth) and Zoe Moffett who are cited in this article for their research contributions were MALT Pennsylvania Mountain research interns. Maybe you met them on one of our hikes?

Congratulations Dr. Galen!

Check out the Science magazine article,

and read the published research here,

Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area Bees in Science Magazine

September 2015

Just published research in the September 2015 Science magazine co-authored by MALT Ambassador Dr. Candace Galen and MALT Pennsylvania Mountain Research Intern Elizabeth Hedrick finds that in two alpine bumble bee species, decreases in tongue length have evolved over 40 years. Researchers have concluded that a shorter tongue has allowed bumblebees to suck nectar from a wider variety of flowers. "Our analyses suggest that reduced flower density at the landscape scale is driving this shift in tongue length," the authors wrote in the study. "Although populations of long-tongued bees are undergoing widespread decline, shifts in foraging strategies may allow alpine bumblebees to cope with environmental change," the authors wrote. "We see broader bumblebee foraging niches, immigration by short-tongued bumblebees, and shorter tongue length within resident bee populations as floral resources have dwindled. In remote mountain habitats - largely isolated from habitat destruction, toxins, and pathogens - evolution is helping wild bees keep pace with climate change."

MALT's property at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area is one of the primary research locations where this study was conducted.

  • N. E. Miller-Struttmann, J. C. Geib, J. D. Franklin, P. G. Kevan, R. M. Holdo, D. Ebert-May, A. M. Lynn, J. A. Kettenbach, E. Hedrick, C. Galen.Functional mismatch in a bumble bee pollination mutualism under climate change. Science, 2015; 349 (6255): 1541 DOI:10.1126/science.aab0868

Read about other research at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area.