New trail, improvements on tap for Eagle | VailDaily.com

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New trail, improvements on tap for Eagle

Kyle the dog surveys the job site while Matt Thompson breaks ground on a new trail extension being added to Haymaker near the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink on Wednesday. The trail addition will be called "Extra Credit" and tack on another 1.3 miles to the existing trail system.

EAGLE — By the end of this biking season, riders in Eagle should notice some big improvements on the area's singletrack.

Projects that are underway, or soon to be underway, include a 1.3-mile extension to the Haymaker loop, a rerouting of Schoolhouse Rock and the Horton Street trailhead, and a new portion of Singletrack Sidewalk will connect the Eagle Ranch area to Brush Creek Park. In addition, Eagle will once again host the high school state championship mountain bike race in October, along with a new high school race in September.

The total of $70,000 in projects is a partnership between the town of Eagle, the Bureau of Land Management and the International Mountain Bike Association.

"There's not one real sexy project that's going on in Eagle, but the sum total of all these small things will have a large effect on the way the trails feel and the accessibility and enjoyment of the riding," said Matt Thompson, of Momentum Trail Concepts, which is doing much of the trail work.

The town also recently completed general maintenance and added signage for popular trails such as Boneyard, Redneck Ridge, Eagle Ranch Loops, Third Gulch and Abrams Ridge. Thompson said most of the work involved cutting back overgrown brush and fixing some damage from heavy rain. Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight said the improvements will also help draw more visitors to town for the riding — something the town has focused on over the past few years.

"Our trails have become more popular in the past few years and are seeing a lot more use, especially in spring and fall," said Staight. "Added use means more wear and tear and we want to stay in front of that. We're working hard to promote Eagle as a mountain bike and outdoor adventure destination so it's important that our product is in the best possible shape."

Extra Credit

The Haymaker trails will get an extension on its eastern end. For now, the trail is known as Extra Credit, and work started earlier this week. The trail is expected to be finished by late August. Thompson said not to expect anything radically different than the rest of the loop, adding that there will be some berms and rollers.

"It'll be part of the (high school) state champs and an added amenity for the community," he said. "It's rolling terrain, and the trail will sit lower down in the slope. It will go in and out of the existing little canyons out there."

The new trail will also be part of the Colorado League State Championships from Oct. 23-25.

"As the Colorado League continues to grow, it has become important for us to extend the trail to accommodate the increased number of riders on the trail," said Staight. "Plus, we'll be able to provide the athletes with two different race experiences in the fall: the original Haymaker Trail for the conference race in September and the extended course with the added mile-plus in October."

School House Rock reroute

Most people who have ridden Eagle know that in order to access trails like World's Greatest, Star Wars or Easy Rider, the shortest way is a steep climb over the ridge from Horton Street.

A project that is pending approval from the Bureau of Land Management will reroute some of that climb, resulting in a less-steep grade overall and a more sustainable trail. The reroute is expected to be finished in October.

"Right now there's a big penalty for getting there and out: a very steep climb. We hope the trail will now be less of a slog coming out and less of an anaerobic burst going in. We hope it will spread out use from some of the more popular trails in Eagle Ranch as well," said Thompson.

The BLM, which has been working closely with the town, said the partnership has been positive for all parties.

"We've had a really good working relationship with the town on all projects up there," said Brian Hopkins, BLM assistant field manager. "We don't have trail crews and the funding we used to have, so having partners like the local bicycle groups and the towns is what really makes things happen on the ground."

Singletrack Sidewalks

The town's Singletrack Sidewalks initiative, connecting kids and neighborhoods to schools and other popular locations, is getting a new section of trail.

Momentum Trail Concepts will construct a new Singletrack Sidewalks connection from the three-way stop at the intersection of Capital Street and Brush Creek Road. Kids and parents will then come in and hand-build fun features. It is slated to be done by the end of summer.

This project involves the construction of two parallel singletrack trails, which will connect the bike path at the top of the hill to the bike path at the bottom, adjacent to Brush Creek Park.

"What this does is eliminate the need for kids to cross the street once at the three-way stop and again at the bottom of the hill," Staight said. "It's not only a safer route … but will be a lot more fun to ride."

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.