Work underway on new midvalley single-track trail on the Crown | AspenTimes.com

Work underway on new midvalley single-track trail on the Crown

The blue line shows the new trail link that will be built this summer on the Crown in the El Jebel area. The 2.8-mile section will link the Buckhorn Traverse and Glassier single-track trails to create a 15-mile jug handle off Rio Grande Trail.

Mountain bikers will be treated to new trails in the mid- and upper valley later this summer.

A new single-track trail will be built on the Crown in the El Jebel area to connect to existing single-tracks. The 2.8-mile Buckhorn Traverse extension will connect the Buckhorn Traverse with the Glassier Trail.

The significance of the trail is it will create a loop that's perfect for after work on weekdays or as something to be incorporated into longer rides, said Mike Pritchard, executive director of the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association.

"It will create a jug handle off of the Rio Grande Trail," Pritchard said. "It will be about 8 miles total of single-track."

Riders were able to link Buckhorn (which starts off the Rio Grande Trail in the Rock Bottom Ranch section) with Glassier (which opened last year) last summer only by using old ranch roads. Before long, the link will be single-track.

Gary Tennenbaum, executive director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said the new trail will be a welcome addition to the network on the Crown.

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"To us, it's critically important because it clarifies the route," he said.

Even though the link last year required way finding on ranch roads, the trails were still heavily used once Glassier was completed, he said.

Volunteers using hand tools will build about half of the trail. A contractor will use machines to build the other half.

Board members of the mountain bike association and "other trail friends" broke ground on the new route Thursday evening, according to Pritchard. Eighteen volunteers showed up.

"It was perfect weather for a group ride and everyone was excited to see a short portion of fresh trail come together to quickly," he said.

A volunteer day will be held June 11. More information is available at http://www.rfmba.org/event/crown-second-sunday/.

The contractor will start in late June and work well into July.

The project is a team effort among the mountain bike association, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM studied the project and granted approvals in October.

The trail will likely be completed and open in late July.

As previously reported, the open space program is pursuing two projects this summer. The Upper Hummingbird Trail will extend the Hummingbird Traverse in the Hunter Creek Valley.

The half-mile segment will extend the lower Hummingbird Trail, a 1.7-mile section that opened in July 2015.

The new trail will eliminate the need to use a portion of the Hunter Creek Toll Road. The Hummingbird currently terminates near the start of the Lower Plunge Trail. The Upper Hummingbird will pick up from that spot, traverse the hillside, make some major switchbacks and end where the Hunter Creek Toll Road forks to Four Corners and Van Horn Park.

The Upper Hummingbird Trail will be open by late July or early August, if work goes as planned.

The open space program also is planning to complete a trail this year that connects a new parking lot along Prince Creek Road to the existing trail network on the Crown, accessed from Prince Creek Road. Public comment on the proposal is being collected through May 24.

The proposed trail would be 1.5 miles long. The project will create a better parking situation and keep cyclists off the road for an additional stretch.

An open house on the proposal will be held Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Carbondale Town Hall. The public is invited. More on the project and a place to submit comments can be found at http://www.pitkinostprojects.com.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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