New trail dreams becoming reality
Steamboat Springs — Ten years ago, Kent Foster and Gretchen Sehler didn’t think they would someday be building new trails in the Routt National Forest.
Sehler said she has dreamed of the potential opportunities to build a network of trails that would truly put Steamboat Springs on the map for cycling.
The problem was, the U.S. Forest Service did not have the money to build the trails and did not have solid partnerships with groups that were going to help maintain and build them.
“We can’t keep up with what we have,” said Foster, Hahn’s Peak Ranger District recreation program manager.
But, times have changed, and Thursday, Sehler and a crew were working on the first of several new trails on Buffalo Pass, where 30 miles of new trails are to be built.
Trail builders could not get started as early as they’d hoped this summer, due to a delay in the approval process, but the goal is to have the first new trail mostly completed before hunters arrive in the forest with rifles Oct. 15.
So far, they have completed about three-and-a-half miles of the new, un-motorized trail, which will allow hikers and cyclists to detour the road that goes up Buffalo Pass. It will begin at the Dry Lake parking area and pop out at the second gate. Additional trail connections will follow.
The section currently under construction crosses through aspen groves and presents spectacular views, especially this time of year.
“One thing we’ve noticed up here is the vistas are pretty incredible,” Foster said.
The new trails on Buffalo Pass include the 4.5-mile Grouse Ridge, 1.9-mile BTR, 9.5-mile Soda Mountain, 3.1-mile Soda Creek and Dry Lake loops and the 6.5-mile trail currently being built. A trail will also be built along the existing Spring Creek Trail for downhill-only traffic.
Some of the work involves reworking illegally-built trails to make them more sustainable.
Sehler is looking forward to soon being able to ride a loop somewhere between 40 and 50 miles long on singletrack from the Steamboat Ski Area down Buffalo Pass and back to the city.
“Talk about an epic loop,” Sehler said.
Foster said the projects were made possible by the city of Steamboat Springs and the lodging tax, which will generate more than $5 million for trails and parks projects.
Some of trails are new, which means they will have to be named.
Last week, when it was raining and Sehler could not work, she came up with the name Fire Dog, another way to describe a rainbow.
Foster said any one will able to suggest a name, but it will cost them if they want to help choose what the name will be. People will be able to vote on the name, as long as they make a small donation to the endowment fund established to pay for future trail maintenance.
So far, about $75,000 is in the fund. The goal is to have $1 million or more in the fund in the next eight to 10 years.
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