Emerald Mountain is getting a new trail following Steamboat council’s approval

Steamboat junior Primo Famiglietti begins his descent down Emerald Mountain during Steamboat's Showdown in the Boat high school mountain bike race on Sept. 24, 2022. Emerald Mountain could be adding a new downhill-only trail to its system taking riders from the top of Lane of Pain to the Stables trailhead.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Routt County Rider proposal for a new bike-specific downhill trail was unanimously approved for Emerald Mountain at the Steamboat Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

As proposed by Routt County Riders President Craig Frithsen, the trail would qualify as the second directional trail on Emerald Mountain alongside NPR, but be designed with the intention of more advanced use. 

“This trail is intended to be similar to the Spring Roll trail with an advanced expert or blue-black rating and a rollable tread surface with optional extra credit obstacles and features for more advanced and expert riders,” Frithsen said. 

The trail is designed to avoid all existing trails and start by the top of the Lane of Pain trail and head east around Moab before snaking back west to let out at the Stables trailhead. 

Frithsen believes the addition of the trail will improve the safety of Emerald Mountain users because it separates downhill bikers from all others which includes hikers, runners, uphill bikers and more. 

Directional bike trails can also remove congestion and traffic. This trail is designed to help separate the more advanced riders from the less experienced ones to keep the flow going. 

Adding this trail would increase the trail diversity on a mountain made up of mostly easier rides. 

“Currently, advanced and expert riders have few options to engage their skill set on Emerald,” Frithsen said. “Just as ski areas provide options for beginners, intermediates and experts, so should a high quality single-track trail system.”

The approximate layout for Routt County Riders’ proposed downhill-only mountain bike trail. The trail was approved by Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Routt County Riders/Courtesy photo

The trail is intended to be narrow with natural features left along the way such as rocks and roots to present a challenge. It is intended to be a much more primitive trail than most others on Emerald Mountain and therefore require less maintenance. 

Construction and design of the path will be done through the hire of professional trail builders with the appropriate supervision of the city and Routt County Riders. 

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Once complete, the trail will become part of the city network and would be maintained by the city with the assistance of Routt County Riders. 

The biggest concern council members had for the proposal was the potential for interfering with other activities in the Howelsen Hill area. The rodeo grounds, stables and Howler Alpine Slide could all be affected by the construction of the new trail. 

Frithsen confirmed that details need to be worked out with the bottom portion of the trail and said Routt County Riders are more than willing to accommodate to other users and tweak the trail layout if need be. 

The next step according to Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby is to draft up a memorandum of understanding, or a formal agreement between companies that intend to work together on a project. 

Council member Ed Briones said this project hits close to home for him and he heavily supported the proposal. 

“Directional trails are important,” Briones said. “It definitely mitigates encounters with other folks, other users. You have seen it on NPR obviously and I feel that we definitely need another one up on Emerald.”

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