Eagle County cyclists blaze a trail
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS, Colorado – On Monday morning, a group of local mountain bikers gathered at a trailhead in Singletree – but on that particular day no one was there to ride.
The group, armed with shovels, was working to finish a new biking and hiking trail that will extend from Singletree to Avon, ending near Nottingham Road and Metcalf Road.
The trail, which is about halfway finished, will be about 3.5 miles long, ranging from intermediate to advanced singletrack, said Lee Rimel, an Edwards rider who is one of the organizers of the project.
“This trail was spearheaded by the residents of Singletree and the (U.S.) Forest Service – it’s been in the planning and approval process for almost three years now,” Rimel said. “Ultimately we want to have a trail out of Wildridge that connects to this trail. The goal is to link communities.”
The trail builders, all volunteers, have already put about a week’s worth of work into the trail, cutting into the hillside, removing rocks and boulders and creating proper drainage. Rimel said they hope to complete the project by the end of June.
Frank Mitchell, owner of Moontime Cyclery in Edwards, said he thinks the new trail will make a great addition to the valley’s network.
“I think it’s going to be awesome because it’s another way to get from Avon to (Edwards) in the dirt,” he said. “There’s already a dirt bike trail up there, but it’ll be nice to have something that is designed for mountain bikers and that is fun to ride. Also, it will be dry early – some years that area is ready to ride in late March.”
The trail project is one of many ongoing efforts by local residents to improve, maintain and expand the mountain bike trail network from Vail to Eagle. Most recently, some mountain bikers and bike shop owners started a Vail Valley chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) in March. The organization works to create, enhance and preserve mountain bike trails around the world. IMBA encourages low-impact riding, volunteer trail work participation, advocacy and cooperation among different trail users.
Leaders of the local IMBA group said they hope to organize riders to help improve the area’s existing trails, and maybe even put the Vail Valley on the map as a mountain biking destination. Vail Valley IMBA co-founder Peter Geyer said he and Edwards bike shop owner Jamie Malin began the local chapter after riding in Park City, Utah.
The area boasted hundreds of miles of well-maintained, marked trails that were similar in terrain to Vail’s trails, Geyer said. He thinks this area could have something similar.
“There’s a lot of potential with many areas in the Vail Valley, including Eagle,” he said. “Many trails are great riding, and we’re a world class resort as much as Park City. However, it’s hard for someone who doesn’t live here to find trails and see that we have a trail system. Instead, people are going to places with more built up systems, like Winter Park.”
He said the first priority is getting the existing trails in good condition. Many “good trails” could be made “stellar” with some maintenance, he said, naming Edwards’ Berry Creek and Vail’s Buffehr Creek as trails that need work.
Besides the Avon-to-Singletree trail, other projects are also in the works, including a proposed new trail in Eagle. The two-mile Hernage Creek Trail would begin at Hernage Creek Road, near the existing Pipeline doubletrack trail, climb two ridges, cross the creek and end at a trailhead parking lot on Arroyo Drive.
Eagle County Planner Adam Palmer said the trail would include beginner to intermediate terrain.
“It’d be an amazing addition to Eagle’s trails,” he said. “It’s a very scenic route, it’d be fully non-motorized, and kind of complete a loop around Eagle Ranch.”
The project will be presented to the Eagle Town Board at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Eagle Town Hall. Trail users and local residents are invited to attend and voice their opinions at the presentation.
Dawes Wilson, who has been riding, building and maintaining the area’s mountain bike trails since 1986, said that as new trail projects move forward, he hopes the different mountain bike advocacy groups in the area work together.
“I’d like to see a more cohesive, united front,” he said. “Also, mountain bikers need to work with other advocacy groups and keep the focus on the trails being multi-use – not just for biking, but for running and hiking – to foster more cooperation and understanding.”
Most trails are collaboration between local riders, groups like IMBA, governments and the U.S. Forest Service. In Eagle County, other trail groups include the Hardscrabble Coalition, which focuses on Eagle trails, and ECO Trails.
Rimel said the key to a successful trail system is getting the community and trail users involved.
“That way, people develop a much greater appreciation for the trails that they use throughout our communities and in our forests,” he said.
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