Letter: We can find a better trail for snowmobiles than one that cuts through Rocky Mountain National Park
The North Supply Access Trail has been a perpetual problem, not only because it crosses the National Park, but also because of serious injuries each year when snowmobiles are routed onto neighborhood roads CR 491 and CR 492. Pedestrians and pets have also been hit where the snowmobiles travel along these roads to reach the National Forest trails.
Due to concerns about access and safety conditions in past seasons, meetings were coordinated by the Grand County Roads and Bridges department with invitations extended to the Park Service, Forest Service, the town of Grand Lake, Headwater Trails Alliance, Trail Groomers, Grand County Sheriff, and representatives from snowmobile rental companies. Not all elected to attend each meeting, but everyone who participated learned of the safety hazards and acknowledged forcing large numbers of snowmobiles onto neighborhood roads is not a solution.
A much superior solution would be to create a dedicated trail for snowmobilers between Grand Lake and the National Forest, avoiding both the National Park and neighborhood roads. If a new snowmobile trail reached the National Forest without crossing Rocky Mountain National Park, direct trail access could be extended by avoiding the park’s snowcover limitations, yielding significant economic benefit to the town and local businesses.
Several alternative routes are possible and were reviewed as well. Along every three-phase power line, there are 120 foot easements — far more than adequate to accommodate a snowmobile trail. There are several of these routes available to the community if they wished to pursue one.
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Alternatively, there is a potential trail path that would allow snowmobiles to reach the burn area south of the golf course, if the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District wished to facilitate access through their property. A final alternative discussed was to purchase easements from private landholders, which would require a funding source.
During the meeting, it was anticipated that CDOT will eventually prohibit the passage of snowmobiles across Highway 34, requiring a large investment to build a tunnel under this road. Before this investment is considered, it is the proper time to rethink the entire route.
To provide a world class experience, with dependable access to the National Forest without trailering, it is time for agencies or other individuals in our community to collaborate and establish a safe, dedicated trail that does not require crossing the National Park or routing significant snowmobile traffic onto plowed neighborhood roads. It won’t be simple, but as the Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado, we need to provide a better access solution.
— Mike Vincent, Grand Lake
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