Tweak time for the Aspen-to-Glenwood Rio Grande Trail | AspenTimes.com

Tweak time for the Aspen-to-Glenwood Rio Grande Trail

Two cross-country skiers head upvalley Monday on the Rio Grande Trail near Basalt High School. Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is asking trail users want amenities they want to see along the popular route.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails wants to know what tweaks people want on the Rio Grande Trail — the immensely popular route that connects Aspen to Glenwood Springs.

The open space program is working on a management plan for the roughly 20-mile stretch from Aspen to Emma within the boundaries of Pitkin County.

The agency is taking public comment on the management plan via a short survey on its website. The online survey gives people a chance to comment on what they like about the trail and what improvements they want to see.

“Do we need more trailheads, benches, interpretative signs or bathrooms?” asked Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of the program. Water stations are another possibility that trail users sometimes mention as a need, he said.

The open space program will work with Aspen and Basalt for amenities in their portions of the corridor. The agency also works closely with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which manages the trail from the Emma schoolhouse to Glenwood Springs.

The Rio Grande Trail provides something for almost everyone. Parts of the old railroad corridor from the 1880s were converted to trail as early as 1969. All but 2 miles of the 42-mile trail are paved.

The route is popular with hikers and walkers during summers and cross-country skiers in winters. It serves as a connector between destinations for road and mountain bikers. It’s popular with commuters and people out for a leisurely workout. The trail provides access for anglers to favorite holes on the Roaring Fork River.

Pedestrian and bicyclist counters at strategic sites indicate use keeps going up. “It’s not growth in terms of exponential any more,” Tennenbaum said. Use is highest closest to Aspen in the Pitkin County stretch of trail.

The Upper Rio Grande Trail between the Aspen Post Office and Stein Park had 22,463 visitors in July 2013 and 24,871 for the same month the next year. That’s an increase of nearly 11 percent.

The trail at the Roaring Fork Club near Basalt had 4,600 visitors in July 2013 and 6,271 for that month a year later. That was an increase of about 36 percent.

A management plan is being created for the stretch of the trail between Aspen’s Stein Park and Jaffee Park in Woody Creek, but the rest of the corridor needs a plan, Tennenbaum said.

The survey can be found via a sidebar link at http://www.pitkinostprojects.com.

People who like the trail just as it is don’t need to fret. Tennenbaum said the idea is to make some minor adjustments in management.

“There’s not going to be massive changes here,” he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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