City to continue talks of proposed downhill-only mountain bike trail on Emerald Mountain
Discussions continue on the Routt County Riders’ proposed second downhill-only trail on Emerald Mountain. Having posted a preliminary proposal on Sept. 2, the organization will be giving its first formal presentation on the project at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Nov. 9.
Routt County Riders executive director Laraine Martin believes there is a need for this project because she has seen the use of the biking trails on Emerald Mountain trend upward over recent years.
“It’s no secret that mountain biking has grown in popularity explosively over the last handful of years,” Martin said. “Specific to Emerald, once we constructed NPR, it was evident that the type of progressive trail design where you’re isolating the user group and a direction was something the system needed and would allow it to function at a higher level with more safety and for a better overall user experience.”
Martin went on an on-site visit with members from the Parks and Recreation staff to walk the potential alignment of the trail. As proposed, the path would be a directional trail that begins at the top of the mountain and takes riders down to the base of Howelsen Hill.
“It’s definitely a zone that could use another trail,” Martin said. “It could take a little bit of pressure off the other side of Emerald and certainly off of NPR which we know has a tougher time with increased heavy usage.”
The hope for the project is to keep a more elemental look and offer users a different style trail from NPR.
This type of trail would theoretically lead to less obligatory maintenance and keep a lower number of users on other Emerald trails.
“We want to see more of a primitive build,” Martin said. “By that we mean, built in with the natural environment. Using more rock and durable surface can potentially result in less maintenance needs because we know those built-dirt features on NPR in a dry year just get hammered and are tougher to maintain than a more natural alignment.”
Martin highlighted that because the alignment starts at the top of Emerald and runs along the corridor of other trails, it will be easy to access from multiple points. Part of the proposed trail runs close to Blackmer and Lane of Pain, offering public access from popular trails and making it easier for maintenance crews to reach.
As proposed, the trail is approximately two miles in length and is estimated to cost between $150,000 and $200,000. The 2A Trails Committee has shown early support in helping to fund the project.
“We’re really excited about the potential project and the fact that the 2A Trails funding committee already voted to fund this is a really good boost in its favor,” Martin said. “The fact that the funding source agrees that this is a good use of the funds, we don’t have to worry too much about that and we have ideas if we need to go beyond that as well.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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