Prayer Flag, NPR trail improvements slated for 2020
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Prayer Flag Trail on Emerald Mountain will be rerouted this summer, as it has been deemed both “unsafe and unsustainable,” according to a presentation made to the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
When the trail was originally built on a fall line, it didn’t have an ideal design, with a steep grade prone to water erosion, according to Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager Craig Robinson. And when the trail erodes and becomes cupped, dangerous and essentially impassable, he said often another fall line trail is created right next to it.
The goal is to stop that, Robinson said. And make a new trail that is more sustainable.
The reroute project will be funded by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado that will provide two weeks of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps labor plus money from the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund that will pay for the rental of a mini-excavator.
Plans include a spur trail to the stand of trees with the prayer flags — a popular destination, according to Robinson. City staff time has also been budgeted.
The old trail will be closed.
Improvements must adhere to guidelines established by a conservation easement on the 586-acre property, which was purchased by the city in 2011.
One of those is to increase sustainability of trails, and the plans are awaiting approval from the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust.
Since the creation of the 2013 Emerald Mountain Master Plan, other trails that have been rerouted to to improve long-term sustainability and enhance user experience include Root Canal, Stairway to Heaven, MGM and Orton.
Robinson also updated the commission on the planned completion of the final segment of the NPR — No Peddling Required — Trail, which begins on Blackmer Drive before the Quarry overlook.
Since the concept of downhill directional trails was initiated in 2014 and NPR was constructed in 2015, Robinson said the goal to reduce uphill/downhill conflict has been a success.
“Due to physical constraints and technical review that needed to occur on the lower sections of Emerald, NPR was not constructed all the way to the base area until a practical alignment could be determined,” Robinson said.
Phase one of the improvements was completed in 2019 just before the first snow fell, improving the Lower Mile Run/Robbie’s Cut trail to make it safer and more accessible.
Now, the city will put out a request for proposals and begin phase two, which involves the continuation of the intermediate downhill trail to the base of Howelsen Hill.
In 2019, the project was given approval and $65,000 in funding for design and construction by the 2A Trails Committee.
Another part of the plan with the goal of improving access and reducing traffic at the Blackmer Trailhead, Robinson said, would involve improving the trail leading to Blackmer Drive from the new sidewalk on 13th Street.
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