Construction for a new trail at Sky Mountain Park got under way this week, with the goal of increasing biker and hiker access to Skyline Trail.
Currently, the main access point to Skyline Trail is Radar Road, a steep and difficult route frequented by airport maintenance vehicles.
This fall, Radar Road will be replaced with Airline Trail, a singletrack trail starting at Owl Creek Trail, opening up the Aspen side of Sky Mountain Park. Airline will connect with Cozy Line Trail, another new route, which then will connect to Skyline Trail. Cozy Line also will connect with Brush Creek Trail, setting up a network between Aspen and Snowmass.
Hikers and bikers have been using Radar Road to access Skyline Trail for the past three years.
“It’s been great, but it’s really steep and loose, and it’s just not the greatest experience,” said Gary Tennenbaum, trails manager for Pitkin County. Tennenbaum said Airline to Cozy Line will be a “much nicer way up” to Sky Mountain Park, which now will have three major access points — in Aspen, Snowmass and Cozy Point Ranch.
Austin Weiss, trails manager for the city of Aspen, which is splitting the cost of the project with the county, said this will create an extensive network of routes for bikers and hikers.
“What these trails are going to do is provide incredible opportunities for trail users to not only experience (Sky Mountain Park) but to start linking up other trails in the area, whether it’s the Government Trail, whether it’s the Rio Grande Trail or the Rim Trail,” Weiss said, adding that the trails will create new views and a “greater appreciation” of the valley.
Airline Trail begins in aspen forests and ends in an ecosystem of oak and serviceberries in the northern flanks of Sky Mountain, overlooking the airport. Airline Trail is about 1.5 miles, while Cozy Line Trail is 2.8 miles. By the end of this week, Tennenbaum said, crews should be a third of the way done. Trailwork is expected to be done in mid- to late September.