Delay in Steamboat project prompts mountain bikers to defend need for more difficult trails
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Veteran mountain bikers who are looking for a steeper, more challenging ride in the Steamboat Springs area will have to wait a little longer for their dreams to become a reality.
The U.S. Forest Service temporarily halted construction on a more difficult biking trail on Buff Pass in the fall before the snow started flying because some concerns were raised about the plans for the trail.
The delay in the trail construction prompted several mountain bikers to attend a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Nov. 9.
The bikers said such trails were needed in the Steamboat area for locals and to attract more visitors.
“We definitely need more challenging trails,” mountain biker Brian White said. “Anything that’s up on Emerald, those are all beginner trails. We would love to see more trail building to test our skills before we’re old and gray.”
With steep sections and rocks, the 4.5-mile Grouse Ridge trail on Buff Pass was intentionally designed to be different from the types of trails riders currently have access to on Emerald Mountain.
But while the trail was actually being constructed, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Chad Stewart suggested there was some concern about how steep and technical the trail was.
“The best way I can describe it is everybody in the room rides bikes, and everybody has an idea of what the trails should look like,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he called a time-out on the project to work through the issues.
He said Tuesday he’s confident the trail project will get back on track in the spring.
Routt County Riders President Jack Trautman also expressed confidence the issue would be resolved.
The delayed trail is one of several being constructed on Buffalo Pass with funding from the city’s lodging tax.
The other new trails on Buffalo Pass include the 1.9-mile BTR trail, 9.5-mile Soda Mountain, 3.1-mile Soda Creek and Dry Lake loops and the 6.5-mile trail that will allow users to get from Dry Lake to the second gate without being on the road. A trail will also be built along the existing Spring Creek Trail for downhill-only traffic.
Next year, crews will attempt to improve and construct a total of 25 miles of trails in the area.
Some of the trails that are being improved were initially built illegally.
Lodging tax funds have so far been used on nine local trail projects, including the Morning Gloria trail on Emerald; improvements to the Ridge Trailhead on Emerald; enhanced trail crossing signals near Rotary Park and the start of the Spring Creek trail; and master planning for new trails on U.S. Forest Service land.
With a key water deal denied, the Battle Mountain developer and the town of Minturn are planning to meet next week to discuss the future of the Bolts Lake property.