Planning begins for Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail |

Planning begins for Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail

A year-long effort to plan a route for the envisioned Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail kicks off this month with open houses in Redstone and Carbondale.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails staff will host public open houses from 5-7 p.m.  Jan. 12 at the Church at Redstone and from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 18  in the Community Room at Carbondale Town Hall.

Open Space and Trails staff will travel to Crested Butte Feb. 6 and 7  for discussions about the planning effort with the Crested Butte Town Council and Gunnison County commissioners.  The kick-off meetings in the Crystal Valley will focus on gathering public feedback on the process and data the public would like collected in order to guide an informed discussion on preferred trail alignments later in 2017.

“We want feedback on our planning and decision process, as well as on the data the public would like to see gathered to inform the discussion around preferred trail routes,” said Lindsey Utter, planning and outreach manager for Open Space and Trails. “We want to hear everyone’s ideas about this trail.”

The Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail, a roughly 83-mile connection, was included in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative last year, which placed the trail connection on a list of 16 priority trail projects across the state. Great Outdoors Colorado subsequently awarded a $100,000 planning grant to this effort, augmenting the $200,000 that Pitkin County Open Space and Trails has budgeted for planning the trail this year.

In addition to public input, natural resource and engineering studies will help identify a preferred trail route. Another round of open houses is anticipated in late summer 2017 to discuss the data gathered and potential routes before a draft plan for each segment of the trail route begins to take shape. The draft plan would see public review in the fall, with potential formal adoption of the plan by the Open Space and Trails Board of Trustees late in 2017. Similarly, preferred routes within Gunnison County are expected to be identified by the end of 2017.

A joint NEPA process, an environmental review required on federal lands, will take place in 2018 for trail segments that occur within the White River and Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison national forests, which could allow construction of segments to begin in 2019.

Pitkin County has taken on the role of lead planning agency for the trail, though it also involves the two national forests, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the town of Crested Butte and Gunnison County.

About 14.5 miles of new trail, on the Carbondale and Crested Butte ends, have been built already, and about 19.5 miles trail already exists in the national forests. The planning effort is focused on about 49 miles of missing links.

The trail between Carbondale and Redstone is envisioned as a multi-use connection, while the trail from Redstone up and over McClure Pass to Crested Butte would be a single-track route, except when utilizing short distances of existing two-track routes.

The status of planning for the trail can be found at and citizens can sign up for email updates on the process as it moves forward. Click on the website’s Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail link.

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