Steamboat Parks and Rec approves new hikers-only trail adjacent to Spring Creek Trail |

Steamboat Parks and Rec approves new hikers-only trail adjacent to Spring Creek Trail

A new, sanctioned trail might soon lie near this section of the illegal Gardens Ditch trail in the Spring Creek area. The Steamboat Parks and Recreation Commission approved a proposal to expand the Spring Creek Trail system through a culverted section of the Steamboat Gardens Ditch that would exit into a newly constructed, hikers-only trail.
File photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Mountain bikers will soon have a downhill only trail on upper Spring Creek. Now, hikers could also be getting their own path.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission approved the construction of a hikers-only trail adjacent to the Spring Creek Trail, which is intended to replace an unsanctioned social trail that frequently sees foot traffic on private property.

“It has been used for several years as a trail, but it was never formally adopted as a trail and folks who use that are trespassing on private property,” said Brad Setter, Steamboat’s parks, open space, trails, rodeo and Howelsen supervisor.

The city was going to work toward closing the unsanctioned trail along the Gardens Ditch regardless of whether the hiking-only trail was approved. With the construction of a new trail, Setter said the city hopes to make up for the loss of the ditch trail.

The approval is contingent upon agreements with landowners who own water rights in the Gardens Ditch. These agreements are still being finalized.

The city hopes to construct the new trail in the fall, Setter said. It also hopes to complete the alternate trail before the ditch trail is closed. Funds from the 2A Accommodations Tax will be used to build the trail.

The new trail would start near the existing Spring Creek Trail and create a loop that would safely cross the downhill mountain bike trail before tying into the existing trail again.

“We’re just trying to provide a loop, essentially, for hikers, because of the impacts created by the Spring Creek alternate downhill trail,” Setter said.

Along with the hikers-only trail, the Spring Creek Trail will not be open to downhill bike traffic once the alternate route for mountain bikers is built, Setter said.

Kris Middledorf, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, spoke against the new trail in public comment. He was concerned the city and cooperating agencies did not have the resources to enforce annual trail closures intended to protect wildlife near Spring Creek.

With multiple trails in the area, Middledorf worried about the impact of erosion into Spring Creek as a result of the paths. He was also concerned by the idea of formalizing what began as an illegal trail.

“I think it sends the wrong message to folks,” he said.

Still, the Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the new trail, with Commissioner Holly Weik absent from the meeting.

“Our goal is to have it go through as much tree cover and be as shady and scenic as possible,” Setter said. “I really think it’s going to be a good route. I think people are going to enjoy it as we get it built.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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