Aspen to discuss Hunter Creek Trail extension |

Aspen to discuss Hunter Creek Trail extension

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Pitkin County Open Space and Trails

ASPEN – The potential extension of the Hunter Creek Trail to the Rio Grande Trail will get consideration Tuesday when the Aspen Open Space and Trails Board convenes.

Easements that have been acquired by the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program provide the alignment for a trail along the north side of Hunter Creek. The trail easement is located in unincorporated Pitkin County, but county open space officials will ask their counterparts at the city if they’d like to take on the project in 2011.

“We own the easements. We’ve been sitting on them for some time – longer than I would like,” said Dale Will, director of the county Open Space and Trails program.

The project is in the county’s work plan in 2012, he said.

The project’s cost, including a bridge to link the existing Hunter Creek Trail, located on the south side of the creek, to the extension on the north side, was estimated at about $200,000 several years ago, according to Gary Tennenbaum, land steward for the county. That money is available in the county open space budget, if the city’s open space program has the staff time and desire to oversee the design and construction, he said.

“We will definitely consider it,” said Brian Flynn, open space and special projects manager for the city. That’s the point of Tuesday’s discussion, he said.

“Definitely, we’re interested from a trail-use standpoint. It’s a wonderful connection,” Flynn said. “It will be a wonderful trail to walk along.”

The existing Hunter Creek Trail is currently accessed in an east-side Aspen neighborhood. It’s a difficult spot for someone unfamiliar with the area to find or be directed to, though the Hunter Creek Trail is a popular local hike, accessing the Hunter Creek Valley on the northeast side of town.

Directing visitors to walk down the Rio Grande Trail from behind the post office and connect with the Hunter Creek Trail would be a much easier scenario, Tennenbaum said. The new segment of trail would begin right next to the Rio Grande bridge over Hunter Creek, heading east toward the Hunter Creek Valley and crossing over Red Mountain Road. It would remain on the north side of the creek until a bridge crossing that is envisioned somewhere to the north of the Hunter Creek Condominiums.

There is also the potential for a parking area to serve trail users just east of Red Mountain Road; there is no designated parking to serve the Hunter Creek Trail currently.

The city Open Space and Trails Board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. at the fire station meeting room.