Rio Grande paving plan in Woody Creek advances

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Plans to pave roughly a 2.5-mile section of the Rio Grande Trail in the Woody Creek area, and provide a separate soft-surface trail for equestrians and mountain bikers, is moving ahead.

The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees, meeting in Aspen Thursday, gave the nod to putting what is estimated as a $1.2 million project out to bid. There is about $920,000 available to do the work and that may be enough, according to Gary Tennenbaum, land steward for Open Space and Trails. The county is aiming to do the work this fall.

The trail segment between Pitkin Iron and the W/J Ranch area is part of a longer section of the trail that currently has a gravel surface. The paving will give road bikers an option to avoid sharing a narrow, steep stretch of McLain Flats Road with traffic, including the multitude of dump trucks accessing the Elam Construction gravel pit.

A separate easement has been acquired along much of the segment in order to provide the soft-surface trail. Woody Creek Development, Holy Cross Energy and Elam Construction Inc. have all agreed to provide easements that will allow a separate, gravel trail on a bench of sagebrush.

A new bridge is planned at the lower end of the trail segment, crossing Woody Creek, for both the hard and soft surfaces. There was at one time a railroad trestle serving the Rio Grande, but it was removed when the railroad was abandoned and pulled up, said Dale Will, open space and trails director.

The Rio Grande Trail, a popular 42-mile bicycle and pedestrian link between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, is almost completely paved. A stretch from Stein Park outside of Aspen to a point above Woody Creek will remain gravel after the planned paving work is done.