On the Run: Forbidden trail | AspenTimes.com

On the Run: Forbidden trail

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve run from my East Side house, through Herron Park and the John Denver Sanctuary, past the Aspen Art Museum, happily on my way to a good, lengthy run – only to smack into that damnable sign informing me that the Rio Grande Trail is still closed. It was closed from Hunter Creek to Slaughterhouse Bridge last fall (prime running months), reopened for winter (runners’ offseason), then closed again this spring (height of running season) to complete the sewer project. Sure there are other places to run: like the East Aspen trail (which never closes for repairs) or Castle Creek Road. But for more than a decade, the Rio Grande has been my preferred route, and runners love repetition. (Of course. What is running but repeating the same one-foot-in-front-of-the-other motion several thousand times?) The Rio Grande is wide, smooth, long and flat. (Runners also love flat trails.)There is relief in sight. The city’s parks department says the Rio Grande will reopen around the end of June (well into the scalding summer season). No, I didn’t ask when it would be closing again. The good news: The trail will be widened, from 8 to 10 feet, and some of the grades and curves will be flattened and straightened.In the meantime, there is an alternate Rio Grande on which to tread. It’s not flat – but it is picturesque and generally empty.From downtown, wander through the West End to Roaring Fork Road, toward the rear parking lot of the Benedict Music Tent. There’s a sign pointing down to a foot path on the south side of the Roaring Fork River, on the opposite bank from the real Rio Grande Trail. You’ll have to jump rocks and stumps, and at the end – which is probably not even a mile from the beginning – there’s a steep uphill to climb, leading back to the other end of Aspen Meadows.It’s not ideal. But at least it’s open.

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