Park trail gets county’s OK
Path will connect National Forest, Steamboat Lake
Steamboat Springs — Bikers, hikers and horseback riders in North Routt will have a new route to the Routt National Forest by late summer.
Steamboat Lake State Park got county approval to build a mile-long footpath from its headquarters along County Road 129 to the national forest Tuesday night.
Park Director Ken Brink expects construction to begin in July and end by August.
The trail fills a critical recreational need in North Routt. No public access currently exists to get people between state and federal land.
Steamboat Lake State Park purchased more than eight acres of land adjacent to Hahn’s Peak Village last January to give outdoor enthusiasts direct access from the park to the Routt National Forest.
Homeowners were concerned the park would open the trail to snowmobilers in the winter, but the Board of County Commissioners only allowed people on foot, bike and horse to use the trail in the summer.
“We will aggressively keep motorized uses off the trail in the summer,” Brink told the board.
The board prohibited guided horse rides to alleviate heavy animal and human traffic on the trail.
“We’re talking about a trail that passes by people’s houses,” homeowner Scott Denniston said.
The residents of Hahn’s Peak Village appreciate the park’s willingness to reach a compromise on trail usage but expect the park to keep visitors on the path and respect their privacy, said Bryan Heselbach, president of the Hahn’s Peak Village Homeowners’ Association.
The board required the park to post signs along the trail to prevent trespassing and place gates and more signs at both ends of the route during the winter if snowmobilers repeatedly try to use the trail.
The park can keep the trail open from May 1 to Oct. 31, so long as weather and trail conditions permit.
Some homeowners admitted they weren’t completely thrilled with a public footpath next to their homes but acknowledged North Routt is becoming a recreation hotspot.
Village resident Shirley Stocks reminded the board that her neighborhood is a peaceful and historic residential area.
“Most of us would probably want to not have any trail there at all,” Stocks said.
The board used the hearing to draw attention to the lack of public winter access to the Routt National Forest.
Homeowners, the U.S. Forest Service, Steamboat Lake State Park, Bureau of Land Management, the county and recreational groups are working together to identify an appropriate site for a motorized trail that connects park and federal land.
“I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for us to get that winter trail,” County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
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