Sky Mountain Park getting sweet cycling additions | AspenTimes.com

Sky Mountain Park getting sweet cycling additions

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails/Courtesy photoA ranger with the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program heads down the Viewline Trail off Sky Mountain Park into Snowmass Village earlier this summer. Mountain bikers will soon have additional options for climbing onto the 2,500-acre park. The Cozyline Trail should be in commission by August. The proposed Airline Trail is being planned off Owl Creek Road as an alternative to Radar Road, a steep, dusty and rather dull climb to the park.

ASPEN – Mountain bikers will have an additional trail to play on by this time next year on one of the most recent properties to be added to the Pitkin County open space inventory, and a second new trail is being planned.

A trail starting near the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82 will be added as quickly as possible next spring and summer to Sky Mountain Park in the Snowmass Village area. The new trail, which will be called Cozyline, will snake back and forth on the northern- and western-facing slope of the large land mass that makes up Sky Mountain Park. That mass extends from the Shale Bluffs to Snowmass Village and from Brush Creek to Owl Creek.

The 2,500-acre property was purchased by a team of local governments for $17 million in 2010.

Cozyline will be nearly 3 miles long with an average grade under about 6.5 percent, said Gary Tennenbaum, land steward and trails manager for the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program. The addition will be a “sustainable trail in the intermediate range,” he said.

The soils in that area are very susceptible to erosion, so that dictated sticking to a slightly gentler grade than many of the trails in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. But cyclists who like a stiff challenge won’t have to venture far off Sky Mountain Park to find steeper climbs. Anaerobic Nightmare, Sequel and Powerline are a short distance away via some awesome connector trails.

Once it tops out, Cozyline will hook into the existing Skyline Ridge Trail, which rolls east for 1.89 miles and hooks into Viewline, which descends into Snowmass Village and a vast network of trails. (Viewline is also a popular climb coming from Snowmass Village.) Mountain bikers would have the option of returning to the trailhead via the paved Brush Creek Trail.

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Tennenbaum said Cozyline will provide a great opportunity for riders to park vehicles at the Intercept Lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek, take the pedestrian underpass of the highway and then hook into the Brush Creek Trail to the Cozyline Trailhead. He also likes how it will provide access from Aspen-owned Cozy Point Ranch, somewhat of an isolated island.

The new trail will curl into a distinctive bowl at one point, and it twists around as it climbs the slope.

“You get some outstanding views,” Tennenbaum said. The trail also will be good for hikers, he noted.

The route for Cozy Point has been marked, and trail clearing was supposed to begin during the summer. Tennenbaum said a chain-saw crew from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps was set to begin work right after July Fourth. The project was canceled because of the dry conditions.

Work will start when Sky Mountain Park opens next spring. Tennenbaum anticipates that city of Aspen and Pitkin County crews will be assisted by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Cozyline will likely be ready for riders by August, he said.

Another access is being plotted from the side of Sky Mountain closest to the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. The proposed Airline Trail will peel off of the switchbacks on the paved Owl Creek Trail, climb the hillside of Sky Mountain Park at no more than a 7 percent average grade and provide an excellent alternative to Radar Road, a dirt and gravel route notorious for full sun exposure and steep, dull stretches before topping out and connecting to the Skyline Ridge Trail. Airline Trail will cross Radar Road a few times before it tops out, Tennenbaum said.

There is no timetable for that addition, but Tennenbaum said the trail is an important addition for Aspen-based users, so he wants to move it along.

scondon@aspentimes.com