Old ski lift route on Emerald could soon be designated as a trail for hikers and horseback riders
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hikers and horseback riders could soon have a trail on Emerald Mountain all to themselves.
And they’ll have Steamboat Springs’ ski pioneers to thank for it.
The T-Bar Trail (no relation to the bar of the same name at Steamboat Ski Area) would generally follow the path that was cleared back in the 1940s to make way for the ski lift that used to take skiers up Emerald on chairs and T-bars.
Howelsen Hill Park Supervisor Brad Setter said the old ski lift route is already being used by runners and hikers who are looking for a more challenging but direct path to the upper trails on Emerald. But the path isn’t an official trail and is not sustainable in its current form.
“This would be a very difficult path to close,” he said, noting how it was cleared of trees and already resembles a trail. “We could fight the battle (to keep people off the path) or we could give the people what they want.”
The city is recommending the latter option.
If the city’s parks and recreation commission endorses the idea, trail crews will work this spring to add water diversion devices that will make the trail more sustainable.
The path would also be signed and added into the city’s official trail system.
Setter said the plan is to only allow hikers and horseback riders on the trail.
It would be the first trail on the mountain where mountain biking would be prohibited.
The city added a trail in recent years called No Pedaling Required that can only be used by downhill mountain bikers.
The T-Bar Trail would start off of Blackmere Drive just above the Orton Trail and gain about 900 vertical feet in a mile before ending at the Blair Witch Trail.
The lift that used to occupy the route ran from 1948 to 1954.
According to Coloradoskihistory.com, this lift at the time was known as the world’s “longest single-span ski lift.”
It was shortened to just go to the top of Howelsen Hill in 1954.
The Parks and Recreation Commission will weigh in on the proposal for the new T-Bar Trail Wednesday evening.
Setter said there will be other trail work occurring on Howelsen and Emerald this summer.
Residents interested in helping with the trail work can volunteer on the third Saturday of every month from May to September.
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