Cyclists of all types will have several additional ways to pursue their thrills on Pitkin County Open Space and Trails property before winter hits.
The dirt is flying at Grace-Shehi property in Basalt, where a new bike park is being built. Dirt jumps are being contoured into the lower slopes of Light Hill, southwest of Basalt High School. There will be two travel lines constructed — one advanced and one easier, according to Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of the department.
At the base of the hill, the dirt jump lines will lead to a pump track featuring jumps, tabletops and banked turns.
The tracks are being designed to accommodate everything from strider bikes for tots to mountain bikes.
“You don’t need a BMX bike,” Tennenbaum said.
A race-sanctioned BMX track was built earlier this summer at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. Tennenbaum said the bike park at Grace-Shehi would complement Crown Mountain’s course rather than duplicate it.
Open Space and Trails has constructed numerous mountain-bike trails in the upper Roaring Fork Valley but hasn’t undertaken anything like the bike park.
“It’s like a confined mountain-bike trail,” Tennenbaum said.
Grace-Shehi Park is named after homesteaders. The 25-acre parcel was purchased in 2010 when Pitkin County contributed $1.1 million and Basalt chipped in $400,000.
One-half acre is used as a community garden for midvalley residents. Another half acre is reserved for expansion. A substantial part of the property is leased to rancher Billy Grange, who irrigates it and grows hay.
A company called Dirtsculpt started work on the bike park Sept. 2. The project, budgeted at $30,000, is supposed to be completed later this month. Tennenbaum figures use will be high given the proximity to the high school, convenience for people riding their bikes from Basalt and adequate parking nearby.
“Once it starts catching on, it’s going to be pretty popular out there,” he said.
The bike park isn’t the only project Open Space and Trails is undertaking this season that will benefit bikers and pedestrians. A hard surface will be added to a section of the Rio Grande Trail at Woody Creek as well as a bridge at the creek itself. The new pavement is less than one mile long, but its addition will mean a cyclist can ride from McLain Flats Road to Glenwood Springs on a hard surface, Tennenbaum noted.
At Sky Mountain Park in Snowmass Village, work is wrapping up on the Cozyline and Airline trails, which will add five miles of singletrack combined. Cozyline will add three miles of trail from the Cozy Point side of the ridge. Airline will add two miles from the Owl Creek Trail and eliminate the need to go up Radar Road.
Significant progress was made on Cozyline recently when 180 volunteers rallied by the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and other organizations put in 835 hours.
Those trails could be completed by early October, Tennenbaum said.