Scott Condon

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January 29, 2014
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Public can weigh in on trails talks Thursday

Hikers, bikers and skiers who have dreamed of new trails to fill gaps in their favorite parts of the woods or connections between existing routes will get a chance to speak up today as part of a “visioning” process.

Pitkin County, the city of Aspen and the town of Snowmass Village will collect public input in two meetings as the first step in creating the Upper Valley Trails Plan. The wish list from mountain bikers will be collected from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Rio Grande Room of the former Youth Center. The hiking, running and skiing community will get their say in the same room from 7 to 9 p.m.

Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said there are no parameters on the requests. Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County have been building trails for 10 to 15 years. They have ideas for additions but want to hear what users are thinking about.

“Think of trails you really want,” he said.

If there are constraints, such as designated wilderness, staff members at the meeting will point them out. The municipal entities also cannot make any promises that trails proposed on federal lands will be pursued. However, the point is to get all potentially feasible ideas on paper and then work with stakeholders ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to conservation groups to see which proposals realistically can be pursued, Tennenbaum said.

“This is just a visioning document,” he stressed.

Trail users can dream big in some of the most popular playgrounds in the upper valley — Snowmass Ski Area and the hills around Snowmass Village; Woody Creek and Lenado; Smuggler Mountain and the Hunter Creek Valley; the Maroon and Castle Creek valleys; Aspen Mountain; and Independence Pass.

The trail network has grown by an incredible amount in the past decade. The focus in recent years has been adding intermediate routes. Beginner trails are still a shortcoming, Tennenbaum said.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association and a firm called Progressive Trail Design are assisting the three local governments on the comprehensive plan. The Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Aspen Skiing Co. also are participating in the process. Suggestions already have been solicited from equestrians.

Discussions will continue through the winter. A draft trail plan is expected in the middle of 2014.

“Think of trails you really want.”
Gary Tennenbaum, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails

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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 30, 2014 04:28PM Published Jan 29, 2014 02:56PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.