New single-track, off-road trail will extend from Boulder to downtown Winter Park
A new opportunity for local adventurers is in the works for the coming years, the Indian Peaks Traverse, a more than 60-mile single-track trail connecting the city of Boulder to downtown Winter Park.
The trail will be open to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and any other form of non-motorized transport, and is meant to give locals the thrill of an epic excursion without the hassle of months of planning.
“To be able to embark from your front door on an adventure like this is an amazing opportunity,” said Jason Vogel, director of the Indian Peaks Trail Foundation. “I think that’s the vision that’s motivating me, and the vision resonating with so many other people.”
The project began in earnest more than a year ago, largely planned by a group of passionate volunteers looking to make the trail a reality. Travelers can already make the trip from Boulder to Winter Park, but several extended road sections pull them out of the immersive wilderness experience, as well as create issues with access and route finding.
For the Indian Peaks Traverse, or IPT, volunteers and government agencies are working together to plan and create a number of new trail segments, some proposed more than a decade ago, to take the trail off the roads and back into nature.
“On a certain level the vision here evolved over time where little bits and pieces of this trail were being authorized or studied,” said Vogel. “None of the land managers saw a big picture. They saw the stretch of trails that are on their land, and not the concept of going all the way from Boulder to Winter Park or vice versa.
“About a year-and-a-half ago we saw that it was important to put it together and paint a big picture. It’s an ongoing process, and there’s a lot of work left to go.”
The proposed trail takes travelers from Boulder up the Marshall Mesa Trailhead to Walker Ranch, from Walker Ranch west into the Peak-to-Peak trailhead in the West Magnolia trail system in Nederland, from Peak-to-Peak to the School Bus Trail close to the Eldora Ski Area, from the Top of School Bus Trail to Corona Pass, and finally into downtown Winter Park.
Most of the trail systems are already in place, including all those in Grand County, but there are still two major sections of trail to be built in order to get the trail off the roads. Currently, the route coming west out of Boulder calls for venturing through the Boulder Canyon Trail and onto an extended road section along Chapman Drive and Flagstaff Road. The proposed improvement would reroute the trail south to a new connector from Eldorado Canyon State Park.
The second major project would include a conservation easement across private property west of School Bus Trail and Nederland, which would allow trail users to avoid going to Rollinsville, as well as a large section of Rollins Pass Road.
But the IPT Foundation is still in the very early stages of the project, and has a lot to work out with governmental partners and land managers.
Partners in the project include Boulder County Parks and Open Space, the Boulder Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, City of Boulder Open Space, Mountain Parks Department, and Eldorado Canyon State Park. There are also several non-governmental organizations involved, including the Headwaters Trails Alliance and the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance.
“We want to work proactively with all the land management agencies to address any potential use conflict issues, or other concerns those agencies might have,” said Vogel. “We want to make sure what we’re proposing here is compatible with everything they’re doing, and that they view us as a constructive partner in proactively resolving any issues that arise.”
With a number of environmental studies to come, reworking of the proposed plans, funding and construction still to take care of, a finished product is still years away. But Vogel believes that the trail will have at least a “soft opening” by 2022, at the latest.
“I think some people will look at this as a bucket list item,” said Vogel. “Others will look at it as something they do once a year, and others who live along the route are going to ride, hike or run segments of the route on a daily basis. So we’re going to end up seeing lots of different types of use…But to be able to start at our house, and go off into the open space and spend three, four or five days hiking this trail is the kind of adventure, the kind of gift I want to be able to give my kids.”
To follow the progress of the trail and for more information visit IndianPeaksTraverse.org.
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