Spoke Talk: The jewel of Steamboat
Ahhh, Emerald Mountain. I love its flowing trails, the occasional rock gardens, switchbacks, huge ferns along the trails creating a rain forest feel, amazing views from the Quarry, the directional trail (NPR) that makes me yell out “Woo-hoo!” and the backside trails that have their own special feel.
Emerald is a magical place — that is, once it finishes kicking my butt and searing my lungs on those first three steep hills of 20-percent grade at the Stables Trailhead.
For years, many locals, bike rental shops and visitors have asked for an easier approach to the trails above. Now, we have it.
The city’s Parks and Community Services just opened a new approach at the Stables Trailhead, bypassing those gnarly hills with a 6-percent average grade to the Bluffs Loop and beyond.
How did this trail come about? Craig Robinson, parks, open space, and trails manager, said it well: “This reroute is a great example of collaboration by many to improve Steamboat’s world-class trail system on Emerald.”
Collaboration indeed. More than two years ago, Routt County Riders began advocating for this trail and presented a proposal to the city.
RCR Trail Builders, under Aryeh Copa’s leadership, designed this new trail with sustainability and maintainability in mind. Copa flagged the trail, and Parks and Rec held a public process to receive input. A soils report was needed, so Four Points Surveying and Engineering came forward with a donated report. This spring, the green light was given by the city to proceed.
RCR Trail Builders stepped into action, donating time, equipment, a trail building crew, a week’s worth of work from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and several volunteer days, with labor provided by locals and local shop owners providing food and beverages to the volunteers. All told, Trail Builders donated about $14,000 worth of in-kind work on this project.
I think you will like this little trail. It flows nicely through the Emerald greenery, with two short bridges that span seasonal drainages.
While this new approach was being built, RCR Trail Builders’ Marc and Gretchen Sehler were busy working to open Emerald’s trails as soon as possible. With help from the RMYC, they cut trees, diverted water and shoveled piles of snow off trails. On the Beall Trail, they removed 64 trees, and on Morning Gloria, 25 trees. Our Emerald is a beauty, but she needs a lot of spring-cleaning before riding.
I rode up Emerald on Sunday with my friend, Tom, who was visiting Steamboat for the first time. After two hours, Tom finished the ride with a big smile and burst out, “If I lived here, I would ride Emerald every day. I love this place!”
It is, indeed, a joy to ride our Jewel.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling, be it road, gravel, trail, urban, dirtjump or BMX. If you need help or advice, contact us. Find us at facebook.com/rcriders or routtcountyriders.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Trautman is president of Routt County Riders.
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