Aspen Skiing Co. opens $10 million Lost Forest adventure center at Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Skiing Co. opens $10 million Lost Forest adventure center at Snowmass

Snowmass Mountain Manager Steve Sewell believes Aspen Skiing Co.'s shiny, new $10 million adventure center, which opened Friday, will be a game-changer for summer in Snowmass.

"I absolutely do," Sewell, who has worked at the ski area in a number of roles since 1977, said recently of the Lost Forest. "It will offer interesting and fun activities for families and I think it's going to give people a reason to stay in Snowmass a couple more days."

Sewell and other Skico officials have said the Elk Camp-based project's goal is for the area to serve as a hub for summer activity, and Friday it was just that, with children running around, families playing games on the lawn, diners on the restaurant patio and cyclists cruising by.

Altogether, the Lost Forest's attractions — which include an alpine coaster, zip line, ropes challenge course and a climbing wall — sprawl roughly 30 acres around the Elk Camp vicinity, Skico spokeswoman Xanthe Demas said. (See sidebar on page A5 for more information on each of the Lost Forest amenities.)

On vacation from Knoxville, Tennessee, Rachel Hovis called the Lost Forest an "awesome" activity for her family and four children, who are between 5 and 14 years old.

"We all love it," Hovis said after exiting the coaster, which she said she rode multiple times. "It's our last day in town and we had heard about (the Lost Forest) and we were waiting for this day all week long."

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Skico unveiled its 5,700-foot "Breathtaker Coaster," the only part of the Lost Forest open year-round, in time to ring in Snowmass Ski Area's 50th anniversary.

The alpine coaster, which opened mid-December, was well received by locals and visitors alike, Sewell said. He called the attraction "an overwhelming success."

The climbing wall, which is still being constructed, is expected to be complete by late July, Demas said. In the meantime, Lost Forest visitors can climb a 35-foot temporary wall.

Part of the Lost Forest plan also entails 15.1 miles of new bike trails, about half of which are complete to date. Demas said Friday the remaining trail construction would hopefully be complete by the end of 2019 or 2020.

Skico wasted no time in realizing its dreams of building an adventure park at Snowmass and began construction the day after the U.S. Forest Service granted the skiing company final project approval June 20, 2017.

For Skico and White River National Forest officials, the Lost Forest has been a long time coming. Snowmass was the fifth ski resort in the White River National Forest to pursue a summer recreational plan since Congress passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in 2011.

But the conversation spurred at least a decade ago, beginning with Vail Resorts' application for an alpine coaster at Vail Ski Area.

White River National Forest representatives would spend the next few years crafting such policy and determining what would be appropriate for its lands.

Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin are the other ski areas under the White River National Forest, which hosts more visits for recreation than any other national forest in the country, to add summer attractions to their resorts.

erobbie@aspentimes.com

Lost Forest amenities:

BREATHTAKER COASTER

The Breathtaker Coaster features a 5,700-foot track that will travel 410 vertical feet. The riders will control the speed in the bobsled-like cars. The ride will last seven- to nine-minutes. The coaster will wind through the trees between the Gunner’s View and Sandy Park trails. It will be operated summer and winter and have lights for night operations.

CANOPY RUN ZIPTOUR

The Canopy Run Ziptour will be a guided experience that will take up to three hours. There will be eight zip lines and two sky bridges spanned tree-based and pole-based platforms.

CHALLENGE COURSE

The Treeline Trail Challenge Course will feature five separate paths in a high ropes course located in the trees above the Meadows Carpet lift. Each user will be on a constant belay system and anchored into a cable system for safety.

CLIMBING WALL

The Rugged Ascent Climbing Wall will be about 40 feet tall and 60 feet wide. There will be up to 15 lanes equipped with auto-belay devices and RealRock construction to make the rock wall look authentic.

BIKING & HIKING TRAILS

The new hiking and biking trails will feature the 1.4-mile Spruce Spur hiking trail along with 1 mile of reroute on Sierra Loop and Rabbit Run. There will be a total of 15.1 miles of new bike trails ranging from beginner to expert. They will be designed by Gravity Logic, a leading trail design and construction firm. The bike trails will be added over two to three years.

For tickets and more information on Snowmass’ Lost Forest, http://www.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/lost-forest.