A glorious trail to Nowhere
February 11, 2004
Someday in the next five to seven years, if everything goes right, riders will be able to get on their bikes in Aspen and ride all the way to … er … Idaho Springs.
In fact, right now, there are only two segments of the trail – an interconnected network of trails, really – that are not at least in the planning stages.
Those segments are the Rio Grande Trail through the Roaring Fork Valley in unincorporated Garfield County, and the trail from Silverthorne to the east portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel. The rest of the Yellow Brick Trail from Paradise to … er … Nowhere (OK, let’s not be too harsh – how about Nowhere Much?) is either paved or on its way toward being paved, according to Mike Herms, the trails manager for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. So what’s done and what’s planned? Done: Except for an overpass to get across Highway 82 at Wingo Junction, the Rio Grande Trail from Aspen to the old schoolhouse in Emma, at the line between Pitkin and Eagle counties.
Planned: The Midvalley Trails Committee is working with Eagle County to secure funding to complete the Rio Grande Trail through the Rock Bottom Ranch to the Garfield County border.
Planned: The Town of Carbondale is planning to pave a one-mile section of the Rio Grande Trail through town later this summer.
Planned: The City of Glenwood Springs is looking into extending the trail farther upvalley along the Rio Grande right of way. Currently, it ends at 29th Street.
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Done: There is a completed bicycle/pedestrian path all the way through Glenwood Canyon. Done and planned: Eagle County has been aggressive in securing the easements needed to extend its trail system from Glenwood Canyon to Vail. Much of the network is already completed, although cyclists traveling east of Glenwood Canyon are currently forced to ride on I-70 or U.S. Route 6.
Done: One of the most beautiful stretches between Aspen and Idaho Springs is along the trail over Vail Pass, which runs between the widely separated highway lanes.
Done: The trail from Copper Mountain to Silverthorne. Done: Riders willing to huff and puff their way over Loveland Pass on U.S. Route 6 are rewarded with a completed bicycle trail from the east entrance of the Eisenhower Tunnel to Idaho Springs. Herms said the thing that’s keeping a trail from being built on the west approach to Eisenhower Tunnel is the fact that there is no way to get bikers through the tunnel. Building a trail up the valley to the tunnel would truly result in trail to nowhere. And the problem along the Rio Grande Trail in unincorporated Garfield County is money. While Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties all have been willing to spend on trail development, Garfield County has not. The result is that there are almost no trails anywhere in that county.
“So far it’s a trial system to nowhere, but we’re making progress,” Herms said.