Gypsum mulls move into mountain biking realm
GYPSUM — At the suggestion of its neighboring community, the town of Gypsum is venturing into the mountain biking realm.
“At the end of the day, what we are hoping to do is something very similar to what the town of Eagle has done,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll.
Once that goal is achieved, both communities envision a downvalley trail system that will be a significant boon for the local riding community and a significant attraction for biking event promoters.
Shroll said the idea of Gypsum looking into its mountain biking options was first presented during a joint meeting with Eagle officials last spring. He noted Gypsum is always open to ideas for how it can expand recreational opportunities in the community, so following that session the town commissioned a planning effort. The first draft of the Gypsum Conceptual Recreational Plan, authored by Olsson Associates of Glenwood Springs, was presented to the Town Council this week.
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Three focus areas
The newly unveiled trails plan draft identifies three primary study areas — Hardscrabble, Gypsum Hills and Red Hill. The plan discusses not only mountain biking trails, but also pedestrian, equestrian and motor vehicle options around the community.
The plan’s objectives include increasing the connectivity of existing trails, including connecting the town’s urban center and paved trail/sidewalk network, to the surrounding soft and hard surface trails and identifying opportunities to increase the size of the recreational trail network in and around the town boundaries.
Additionally the plan details environmental and regulatory constraints which may limit the type or location of new trails.
When referring to path connections between Eagle and Gypsum, the focus of attention has been along the U.S. Highway 6 corridor. But there is another, vast opportunity for the two towns to link up — the U.S. Bureau of Land Management property that lies south of both communities.
In Eagle, the BLM lands are accessible through the town’s open space trail network. There is also potential to access the area from designated locations in Gypsum such as Spring Creek, Buckhorn Valley and Saddle Ridge.
“We are just trying to get our hands around what that could look like,” Shroll said.
The first challenge, he noted, is to get a better idea of what is out there currently. That means identifying “true” trails, renegade trails and other uses.
“We want to do a better job of mapping that all out,” Shroll said.
As for allocating funds for trail work, Shroll said the town isn’t quite there yet. Before spending money on trail connection or expansion, Shroll noted Gypsum must do more planning.
And by saying the town needs to tackle the planning work, Shroll stressed Gypsum means to involve its citizens and interested neighbors in the process.
“This is a project where we need the public’s help to do what we are talking about,” he said. “It’s an exciting project and we are talking about a unique back country opportunity. I think it is going to be a great addition the recreation opportunities in Gypsum.”
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.