Prince Creek parking lot plan moves forward for popular biking, hiking trails near Carbondale |

Prince Creek parking lot plan moves forward for popular biking, hiking trails near Carbondale

A mountain biker rides a trail on the Crown, with Mountain Sopris looming in the background.
Ann Driggers/courtesy photo |

Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday approved efforts to build a 35-space parking lot for mountain bikers and hikers on the lower portion of Prince Creek Road.

The parking lot will be located on the east side of Prince Creek Road on a 5-acre parcel owned by the county and known as the “Bull Pen,” said Gary Tennenbaum, the county’s open space and trails director.

The county recently constructed a trail that runs parallel to Prince Creek Road from the Bull Pen to a trail network on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property known as the Crown for better biker and pedestrian safety.

Now the next step is to construct the parking area, which will include vegetation screening, bathrooms, signs and a speed table crosswalk across Prince Creek Road, Tennenbaum said. Construction of the lot will cost about $195,000 and hopefully will be done in time for biking season this summer, he said.

The trail and the parking lot were proposed in response to the growing popularity of the Crown, which is located outside of Carbondale off Highway 133. Mountain bikers often park their vehicles at the entrance to the Prince Creek subdivision about 3 miles off Highway 133, creating headaches for residents.

The parking lot in the lower section of the road is meant to keep traffic down on Prince Creek Road and improve safety.

Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails Program collected comment from the public starting in December about whether to build the parking lot on the north side of the road, where the 1.4-mile trail was built, or on the east side. A majority of the public supported the east-side configuration, according to a memo from Tennenbaum to commissioners.

The north-side option does not allow for much expansion in the future and would require an extra $300,000 to realign Prince Creek Road, he said.

The Open Space and Trails Board unanimously recommended the east side option Feb. 22, according to Tennenbaum’s memo.

Commissioner George Newman said his main concern with the east side location is future expansion, which he doesn’t want. Instead he said he’d like to see more utilization of the Roaring Fork High School parking lot, which is available in the summer months.

Tennenbaum said he’s working on a “Town to Crown” campaign to get people to do exactly that. However, he said the 35-space lot at the Bull Pen will be sufficient to absorb the demand “99 percent of the time.”

Commissioner Patti Clapper also said she supported moving forward with the east side plan, where the “budget is within reason.”

The parking lot will not be built for equestrian trailers, a point expressly made in the Prince Creek Management Plan adopted by the county, Tennenbaum said. To that end, open space staff is working with BLM staff to accommodate the needs of the equestrian community at an area in the middle section of Prince Creek Road closer to equestrian trails, he said.

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