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Trails group looks to what’s next in town of Avon

Mountain biker Sam Chipkin rides a banked turn section of the Lee's Way Down trail in the West Avon Preserve.
Scott Bellow | Special to the Daily |

COMING UP

June 15

Trails group meeting in Avon, unveiling purposed new trails, estimated cost of construction, and what criteria will be involved in establishing prioritization of the purposed trails. June 15, 5:30 p.m., Avon Town Hall.

June 21

Groups of four invited to become friends of the trail in Eagle County, adopt a trail to donate two workdays over the summer to trail upkeep. Meet at 6 p.m. at The Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek, food and drinks provided.

AVON — When the West Avon Preserve opened for hiking and biking on April 15, there was a celebratory atmosphere on the trails.

Mountain biker Bill Sullivan got there first thing in the morning, saying he couldn’t wait to ride Lee’s Way Down.

“I love what they’ve done with this area,” he said.



Sullivan came from Vail that morning to enjoy the West Avon Preserve trails, which connect Avon’s Wildridge neighborhood to the Singletree neighborhood in Edwards. The 478-acre parcel has seen the development of 11 miles of trails throughout the past three years. In April 2014, the town quickly approved and appropriated funding for new trails in the area after residents expressed their desire to see the long-proposed trail system constructed that summer. While the parcel was originally thought to be an amenity for Wildridge and Singletree residents to enjoy, trail users such as Sullivan have been visiting from all areas of the county to experience the trails. Lee’s Way Down, which was machine-made by Momentum Trail Concepts in 2014, has become a legendary ride.

“It was recognized after just a few weeks as one of the best descending rides in Eagle County,” said Lee Rimel, Lee’s Way Down’s namesake.



How popular it would become, however, was a surprise to even those who built it.

“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Matt Thompson, with Momentum Trail Concepts. “I wasn’t as in tune with the riding culture at the time, so I didn’t realize how big it was going to go. But I learned very quickly.”

NEW PLAN OUT NEXT WEEK



Now, with hikers and bikers flocking to the preserve like migrating birds to a wetland, local trail groups are looking to what’s next.

“More trails in nearby areas would help spread out some of the use there,” said Thompson.

One of those nearby areas is the Upper Metcalf area to the north of the West Avon Preserve. Longtime Wildridge resident and mountain biker Taylor Seaton says he has been excited about the idea of Upper Metcalf trails for years.

“I’ve seen Avon’s master plan for their trails, and it’s awesome,” said Seaton. “I always thought of it as something that might someday happen, but to see that it’s possible right now is super exciting.”

Next week, a new trails master plan will be released, with a Metcalf Drainage trail suggested as a downhill route similar to Lee’s Way Down. The idea is to connect the potential trails in the Upper Metcalf area with the existing trails in the nearby West Avon Preserve and eventually, the rest of the trail system in Eagle County.

“There will be a nice paved route up Metcalf, but we’re also looking at putting a dirt trail next to it,” said Michelle Wolffe, with the Avon Recreational Trails Group. “Similar to what Eagle has done with their singletrack sidewalks.”

JUNE 15 MEETING

A trails meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 15, at Avon Town Hall, during which residents will get a glimpse of Avon’s new trails master plan and be encouraged to offer input. The updated plan will show all the new trails that are purposed, the estimated cost of construction, and what criteria will be involved in establishing prioritization of the purposed trails.

Wolffe said the situation could be similar to what residents saw in 2014, where the construction began quickly after residents expressed support.

“A few years ago, when the town of Avon had some funding, they weren’t sure on whether to move forward with the trail system, and the same thing is happening this time,” she said. “They have funding again, but where it goes, they don’t know. We’re hoping the community will come out to the open house on the 15th to voice their support of the trails and if the expansion is something they would like to see happen.”

Thompson and Momentum are currently working on trail maintenance on Vail Mountain. Experts in the area of maintenance as well as construction, he says the popularity of the West Avon Preserve trails will require a double down on maintenance if the 11-mile network isn’t expanded.

At a meeting of the Avon Town Council on May 24, councilman Matt Gennett said he wanted to see the town seize the opportunity to construct yet this summer, given that Avon has money targeted in the budget for this year.

“I do think the process is a bit onerous and cumbersome for something that’s so overwhelmingly popular,” he said.

The plan would first have to go to the town’s planning and zoning commission for a recommendation, and then the council would have to approve two readings of an ordinance to get trail work started, Town Manager Virginia Egger told Gennett.

Egger said that second reading could occur during the first week of August if the council directs staff to aim for that schedule.

“Then we felt we could bid, and commence construction in September,” she said. “But I know there is concern, who will be out there, and are all the contractors booked by the time we want those trails.”


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