Planned trail near Snowmass on hold |

Planned trail near Snowmass on hold

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – One of the new trails planned at Sky Mountain Park near Snowmass Village is on hold while the town works out a plan to deal with dogs.

The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees reaffirmed its support for the Sky Mountain Park management plan Tuesday, and it was presented at a joint meeting of the open space board and county commissioners in Aspen later in the morning. But the proposed Rimline Trail, connecting the existing Rim Trail to the paved Brush Creek Trail, is on hold, said Gary Tennenbaum, land steward for Open Space and Trails.

The proposed Rimline and Rim trails are on the town of Snowmass Village’s Upper North Mesa open space, which was supposed to have a dog prohibition from the get-go, though it was never enforced. Attempts to close Rim Trail North to dogs now is meeting with resistance.

The Snowmass Village Town Council, however, voted unanimously Monday to adopt the management plan, including a ban on dogs on connector trails that lead to Skyline Ridge Trail. That means the Viewline Trail, constructed last year, won’t be open to dogs, Tennenbaum said. The existing Highline and Lowline trails on the park’s perimeter are open to canines, as is the Brush Creek Trail from May 15 to Oct. 15.

The base of Viewline is on Snowmass Village open space, but it leads to county open space in the heart of the park, where dogs are banned. The park consists of open space parcels owned by the town of Snowmass Village, Pitkin County and the city of Aspen.

The town plans to begin dog enforcement on its open space, Mayor Bill Boineau said Tuesday, but whether the town will opt for a strictly enforced leash law on the Upper North Mesa property or a dog prohibition has yet to be determined, he said.

The county will see what happens on that property before proceeding with the Rimline Trail, Tennenbaum said.

The priority for this summer will be construction of the 2.3-mile Cozyline Trail, connecting Cozy Point South, a city equestrian parcel at the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82, to the Skyline Ridge Trail, he said.

County commissioners said they’d like to formally ratify the management plan, though such documents are typically approved only by the Open Space and Trails board. Commissioner Jack Hatfield, however, urged a delay in constructing trails that are most worrisome from a wildlife perspective. In particular, he noted the Ditchline Trail, which would wind through the valley floor off Brush Creek Road and connect to the ridge.

“I’m hoping it comes later than sooner,” he said.

“I think slower is better than faster in the decisions that we make,” agreed Commissioner Rob Ittner. “Are we committing right now to the Ditchline Trail in 2014?”

The trail timeline in the management plan is a guide; projects require formal budget approval before they proceed, Tennenbaum responded.

Hatfield also questioned the need to create a single-track trail between Buttermilk and the park along Owl Creek Road, where both the road and a paved bike trail already exist.

Some 15 miles of new trails and three new trailheads are proposed in the management plan for Sky Mountain Park, located to the north and west of Snowmass Village. Habitat-improvement projects are also proposed, starting with a 30-acre treatment this year. The 2,500-acre park includes the former Droste property, encompassing the ridge that separates the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys and boasts Skyline Ridge Trail, a park highlight.

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