Grand Lake Rec District opens new bike- and dog-friendly trails
Sky-Hi Daily News
Through most of the summer, Grand Lake volunteers have been moving logs and staking out ground to make up the area’s newest network of dog- and bike-friendly hiking trails.
About 400 acres of Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District property is available for trail building, with the first five miles already in place.
In total, about eight new trails are planned to be ready for use by the end of this summer, bringing users closer to scenic areas within district boundaries.
Trail-building volunteer Tim Markel of Grand Lake calls the new trails “a jewel.”
The trails lead to alpine wetlands, the Colorado River and a vantage point of the Three Lakes area.
“It gives local people some place really close to get to and enjoy,” said District Nordic Center Director Janice Peck, who is in charge of creating the new trail system.
Although Grand Lake residents are surrounded by an abundance of Rocky Mountain National Park and U.S. Forest Service trails, for the hiker with a dog, use is limited.
Park trails restrict dogs, and many of the U.S. Forest trails cater to motorized use, such as ATVs and snowmobiles.
The Rec District aims to provide non-motorized trails closer to home, open to hikers and their dogs and mountain-bike enthusiasts.
The new trailhead parking lot is located on Golf Course Road across from the Three Lakes Water and Sanitation building.
From the main (six-miles round-trip) trail that leads to the Colorado River, other trails branch, leading to pristine views of wetlands habitat and picnicking areas made from tree stumps.
Trails are tailored, such as the one-half mile wetland loop accommodating senior hikers, hikers with senior dogs and the beginner mountain biker, or the one-half mile advanced mountain-bike loop, taking advantage of log and rock obstacles and the slope of the forest.
The system appeals to the entire family, with trails “mild-to-wild,” avid mountain biker Markel said. “A lot of the trails are as technical as how fast you go,” he said.
The eventual goal, according to Peck, is to expand the system to include 20 to 30 miles of trails.
And they translate to snowshoe trails come winter, she said.
The system can someday connect to Forest trails by way of two bridges crossing the Colorado River and the Red Top Valley ditch.
The Rec District, through which trails were made possible partially from a bond issue passed for tree work and trails, may be seeking grants to build the bridges.
For mountain bikers, the connection would provide access to forest trails much closer to Grand Lake than existing trailheads located a few miles outside of town.
District residents have provided invaluable help in getting the trails ready, Peck said. A total of 15 core volunteers have staked as much as 120 work hours to create the new system, and organizations such as the Boy Scouts have participated in the effort as well.
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