Regional trail planned to the west |

Regional trail planned to the west

Donna Gray

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Imagine a regional trail system from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, from Glenwood Springs west to the Mesa County line, and from Carbondale up the Crystal Valley all the way to Crested Butte.That was the vision presented at the recent 2005 Regional Trails Summit in Glenwood Springs. Trails advocates, 140 strong, heard how a broad network of trails can work for the three river valleys in the region. The Three Rivers Regional Trails System will branch out to the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Crystal river valleys, and much of the network is already in place, said presenter Ralph Trapani.Trapani, who styled himself as a “recovering highway engineer,” and is in fact retired from the Colorado Department of Transportation where he supervised Interstate 70 construction through Glenwood Canyon, said trails connect communities and have a measurable economic benefit.And biking is big business. Trapani would know as he is married to former Olympic bicyclist Jeanne Golay. “There are three million bikes in Colorado, and bikers ride 5.6 million miles a month,” he said.Glenwood Springs already has its share of world-class biking and hiking trails, with the Glenwood Canyon bike path as arguably the jewel in the crown of regional trails.Local volunteer groups are at work to make the regional system happen. The Lower Valley Trails Group is planning a trail from Glenwood Springs west to the Garfield County line, Trapani said. It has already secured much of the funding for the first segment that will run along I-70 in South Canyon just west of Glenwood.Trapani said that segment is expected to be completed in 2007.The group also has its sights on land at the I-70 rest area in Rifle. It would like to construct two miles of trail along the Colorado River.In Pitkin County, the Rio Grande Trail is now virtually complete between Basalt and Aspen.One problematic section that has been eyed for a continuation of the Rio Grande Trail is between Catherine Store and Carbondale on County Road 100.That 10.5-mile portion could be completed if the former railroad line is torn up to make way for a trail. But some have lobbied to keep the rails in place for a future train.Also on the radar screen is a trail following Highway 133 through the Crystal River Valley. Trapani said it could eventually connect Carbondale and Crested Butte.Tim Young, a trails designer from Jackson, Wyo., spoke about his bicycle travels around the world and his efforts to build a regional trail system in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.”Great trails require great attention to detail,” he said. Some of those details should include “way-finding” and interpretive signs, and places to rest like pocket parks. And they should be designed for use in all seasons.”Trails connect us to the natural environment and help preserve some of our natural settings,” Young said.Vail, Colorado

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