New Avon trails now officially open
HELP PICK NEW NAMES
Several of the trails mentioned in this article will be renamed soon. Avon Mayor Rich Carroll said some “Wyse-er” names have been floated, and encourages anyone interested in helping name the trails to show up at town hall Tuesday evening during the council’s regular session, where trail names will be discussed and public comment will be heard.
AVON — Public excitement over the 13.5 miles of new trails in town culminated Saturday during a ceremony at O’Neal Park in Wildridge.
A group of 50-60 trail users gathered at the area of open space known as the West Avon Preserve to celebrate trails like Lee’s Way, Easy Loop and Playground Way, which officially opened this weekend but have been in use for months after seeing completion this summer.
Many in attendance — including locals Cody Wyse, Casey Wyse and Mark Luzar — have been helping build the trails in the West Avon Preserve for years. Others, such as Vail resident Jack Carnie, were there viewing the trails for the first time.
“I haven’t been up to Wildridge in 20 years,” Carnie said.
The trails, from inception to completion, have been a demonstration in partnerships, as groups like Eagle County Open Space, the town of Avon, the Eagle Valley Land Trust, the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Vail Resorts and more have all helped out along the way.
“It’s really amazing to see this kind of partnership come together,” said Jim Daus, of the Eagle Valley Land Trust.
Avon Mayor Rich Carroll, a Wildridge resident, said it was once hard to imagine any trails at all in the West Avon Preserve.
“All this land was going to be developed with homes,” Carroll said. “Thanks to Eagle County, putting in $5 million from the Open Space fund, and the town of Avon taxpayers for putting in $1 million, we were able to buy this land.”
Daus said for the price, the 478-acre plot of land was a great purchase.
“If you think $6 million is a lot of money, you’re probably going to be thanking your leaders 10 years from now,” Daus said. “I think it’s well worth it.”
Exactly one year ago, Carroll first saw the new plan for the trails when Jamie Malin from the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association shared with him the vision, designed by association member John McDade, along with Malin and former Vail Valley resident Peter Guyer.
“In about 15 seconds I said this is unbelievable, we’ve got to get it done,” Carroll said. “And here we are today.”
Twelve months ago, “This was nothing,” Malin said. “It’s pretty amazing what it is now.”
Malin and the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association started work on the Avon-Singletree Connector and Saddleridge trails first, before the town of Avon kicked in roughly $80,000 to see Lee’s Way, Easy Loop, Playground Way and the Wild West Ridge trails machine-built by Momentum Trail Concepts out of Denver.
Before the Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association made the plan into the seven-trail network it is today, former U.S. Forest Service employee Jeff Thompson helped design the Avon-Singletree Connector and Saddleridge trails. That was before the open space purchase, so Thompson was working within the parameters of the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental impact statement.
“I think we figured out a pretty cool trail for where we were able to go,” Thompson said Saturday of the Avon-Singletree Connector trail.
As for Saddleridge, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado worked on the first mile or so, before the Wyse brothers stepped in.
“We had $15,000 in the bank from Eagle County, that was going to go toward the Saddleridge trail,” said Lee Rimel, a Singletree resident who’s been a part of the trail network’s vision since the beginning. “But Cody and Casey Wyse spent the winter building the trail, so we were able to allocate that money elsewhere.”
In September, Vail Resorts dedicated their Epic Promise volunteer day to the Masher trail, which Thompson also helped design. They were able to get it roughly 60 percent ready in just a few hours.
“They somehow managed 270 bodies, and built 6,000 feet of trail in two hours,” Rimel said. “It was absolutely amazing.”
The most recent additions to the West Avon Preserve trail system, Masher and the Wild West Ridge, are still in construction and expected to be ride-ready by next spring.
Matt Thompson, a former Downhill MTB Masters World Champion and current trail builder with Momentum Trail Concepts, was in attendance Saturday. He said his team is making good progress on Wild West Ridge, which will connect the Wildridge and Singletree neighborhoods, after starting construction Oct. 1.
“In a perfect world, we’re done with that trail before the snow files,” he said. “I wouldn’t count on riding it this fall, but I expect it will be ready by next spring.”
Thompson said favorable weather so far in October has been a welcome advantage in keeping on schedule.
ENJOYING THE TRAILS
Indeed, the weather was favorable for trail users Saturday. Following the ceremony, most in attendance hopped on a bike or enjoyed a hike on the trails, which saw plenty of use throughout the afternoon.
For guys like Rimel, who have been imagining trails in the West Avon Preserve for years, seeing everyone scatter to enjoy the trails was as fitting a conclusion to the day as one could hope for.
Citing a story from the Vail Daily, Rimel ended things by sharing with his audience a quote from the Eagle Valley Land Trust, which said the open space is designed to provide front-door access for local neighbors to conservation areas, and to save lands that are within walking distance from where people live.
“I believe we have created that here,” Rimel said.