Bean: Grand County trail history |

Bean: Grand County trail history

Train going over Corona Pass.
Photo Courtesy of Grand County Historical Society |

Grand County is a wonderful place to live, with countless amounts of recreational activities to enjoy. People have enjoyed traveling to Grand County for tourism and recreation since the 1860s when our now beetle-killed lodgepole pines were all young saplings. Among some of these first travelers were William N. Byers along with William Russell who saw the beauty in Middle Park and wanted to lead expeditions on a wagon road over Berthoud Pass to the Middle Park area. The main draw to the area at this time was the healing pools of Hot Sulphur Springs. These waters were shared with tourists, settlers, Utes, and even horses.

Travel at this time was not as it is today. The average time to travel from Empire to the other end of Berthoud Pass alone was an entire day. They would travel through the spring lasting snows, marshy conditions and even downed trees with their wagons. Even with these struggles, the excitements filled them to see the beautiful mountains filled with lush forests, plentiful wildflowers and clean mountain air. They took advantage of the edible resources including fresh Trout, edible plants and game.

As time passed, tourism continued to thrive. By the 1900s, trains began to travel over the Continental Divide over Corona Pass. This allowed tourism not only in the summer, but also in the winter. Travel was still difficult with the trains plowing through snow drifts 15 feet high. By 1927, the Moffat Tunnel was completed. This allowed train travel through the continental divide rather than over it. This brought even more tourists to Middle Park with a less strenuous journey. Skiing, ski jumping, cross country skiing and the very first winter carnivals were drawing numerous travelers to Hot Sulphur Springs and to the county. Skiing and winter sports grew more and more popular as the years continued, including Hot Sulphur Springs, Berthoud Pass and eventually Mary Jane and Winter Park Resort.

Today, tourism is a large draw for people to come to Grand County. Grand County includes 1,000 miles of multi-use trails. This makes several types of recreation possible. In the winter, skiing is still a huge part of the culture of Grand County. We now have over 800,000 downhill skiers annually with 3,060 skiable acres at Winter Park Resort. The county also has 700 miles of trails on public land that include trails for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and snowmobiling. During the summer these trails include a mecca of available activities such as hiking, mountain biking, downhill biking, horseback riding and motor sports.

Not only do our trails provide a vast amount of recreational opportunities, but they also lead the way to even more recreational opportunities. One can hike to a waterfall or alpine tundra and deep woods for wildlife viewing. One can hike to various fishing destinations such as the Colorado River, the Fraser River, and various lakes and reservoirs. Sailing, paddle boarding, boating and fishing are just among the few activities to enjoy in these waters. Not only do we have the public trails in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Rocky Mountain National Park and the towns throughout the county, but we are also lucky enough to have trails on various resort properties including the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch, Devils Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa, Granby Ranch, and Winter Park Resort.

As Grand County grows, so do our recreational activities. Trails are a very important part of these activities bringing economic growth and other opportunities to Grand County These trails access and provide an unlimited amount of recreational activities year round for visitors, part-time and full-time residents.

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