Yampa River Core Trail extension, single-use and directional trails on table for Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River Core Trail extension, single-use and directional trails on table for Steamboat

Tiffany Gebhardt and her daughter Waverly enjoy warm weather in Steamboat Springs while making their way along the Yampa River Core Trail in March 2012.
File photo/John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Extensions to the Yampa River Core Trail will likely be recommended as part of the city of Steamboat Springs new parks and recreation master plan.

Preliminary recommendations were presented to the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission at its meeting last week. Feedback from the meeting will be included in the final master plan, which is currently being drafted by Logan Simpson, a consulting firm hired to produce the plan.

One of the firm’s highest priority recommendations is to extend the popular Yampa River Core Trail that runs through Steamboat, north to Slate Creek and south to Legacy Ranch. A community survey of full-time residents and second homeowners showed that 76 percent of survey participants supported the Slate Creek extension and 67 percent supported an extension to Legacy Ranch.

More open spaces

Logan Simpson’s preliminary recommendations suggested the city work to acquire additional land or conserve existing open spaces in the following areas.
• Upper Yampa Valley

• South Valley Gateway

• South Valley Edge

• Emerald Mountain

• Spring Creek

• Soda Creek

• Cooper Ridge

• Steamboat II Ridge

• West Yampa Valley

Priority would be placed on lands adjacent to existing lands to provide additional trails and habitat connectivity, according to a presentation from Logan Simpson.

“I know there would be conflicts putting trail through riparian areas,” said Kris Middledorf, an area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “People might have a disagreement, but I think it’s very important to connect people to the outdoors. When we have people coming from the Front Range, it might be hard for them to locate some of these trailheads or to get up into the mountains, and they might only be here for a day or two and want to enjoy these city amenities. I think the Core Trail is key to that.”

For the extensions to happen, easements through private land would have to be established. The project also would have to work within physical constraints — possibly crossing and re-crossing the Yampa River and, in some areas, the wetlands that surround it. Logan Simpson predicted the northern extension would cost about $1.5 million, and the southern extension would require about $4.4 million.

“There are some opportunities, perhaps in the future, but right now, there are no easements in place to get out there,” said Craig Robinson, interim city parks and recreation director.

Parking for trails will also be tackled in the new master plan. Preliminary recommendations include constructing a parking area and a well-defined trail entrance at the Blackmere Trailhead on Emerald Mountain. A community survey found 67 percent of survey participants supported the concept. Logan Simpson presented this as a high-priority project.

The new master plan will also likely include recommendations to designate single-use and directional trails intended for hikers and mountain bikers on Emerald Mountain and in the Spring Creek area. Logan Simpson representative Jana McKenzie said the firm received several comments acknowledging conflict between hikers, Nordic trail users and cyclists.

Read more

In this five-part series, we explore the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department’s draft master plan.

Saturday: Changes could be in store for floaters using commercial tubes on Yampa River

Tuesday: New master plan likely to prioritize repairs at Howelsen Hill

Wednesday: Yampa River Core Trail extension, single-use and directional trails on the table

Thursday: Dog park, off-leash areas to be considered

Friday: Funding questions remain for proposed improvements

“Most other communities do have those kind of single-use and directional trails for safety and the user experience,” McKenzie said.

The plan will also recommend improvements to trail connectivity in town, including bicycle lanes and routes and improved crossings on U.S. Highway 40.

This story is one of a five-part series about recommendations likely to be included in the parks, recreation, open space, trails and river master plan.

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

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