Ski to work on trails system | AspenTimes.com

Ski to work on trails system

John Colson

For all those who wish to live in Aspen without a personal car, take note: In the wintertime, at least, you can get around on skis.Bridges and “trails connections” link Aspen’s municipal (paved) trails system with a larger Nordic Trails network, which can take a cross-country skier from downtown Aspen to the high school, Snowmass Village, or even Woody Creek.According to Trails Coordinator Austin Weiss, the city of Aspen deliberately allows snow to build up on a number of such “connections” so that they can be groomed for skiers.Specifically, Weiss said, there are the Castle Creek Road and Maroon Creek Road pedestrian overpasses; the ARC bridge that crosses over Maroon Creek Road next to the public schools campus; the Tiehack bridge that spans the Maroon Creek gorge; and the Highway 82 underpass near the roundabout on Aspen’s east side.Plus, there is the stretch of the Rio Grande Trail from Mill Street to the Slaughterhouse bridge on Cemetery Lane.These connections, he said, contribute to “the seamlessness of the Nordic system,” which he maintained “really is what makes our community unique” in terms of its public trails.Weiss said there “not many, but a few” hardy souls who regularly commute to and from work between Snowmass Village and Aspen on skis. And each winter, plenty of people ski for pleasure on the Nordic Trails.The bridges and short trail connections are maintained, first by snowmobiles to pack down the early snows and later by snowcats with grooming attachments. For the highway underpass, snow must be trucked in, dumped and pushed around by the snowcats.It takes some effort, Weiss said, but “our goal is to accommodate both nordic skiing and (on paved trails that are plowed and brushed) bikes, when possible.”There is some grumbling from bikers, he said, noting, “It’s an ongoing debate. It’s a ski town. Should be we plowing trails to accommodate bikes,” particularly in light of the scarcity of winter bikers.”We feel the Nordic Trails connection is important enough to keep going,” Weiss concluded.