Vail Pass bike path needs extra support
Volunteers are now being recruited to head up the pass this weekend and help stop both forms of destruction, says Ellie Caryl, trails planner for Eagle County Regional Transit.
“It’s definitely suffered the ravages of time and the elements. It’s at the stage now where it needs a little more TLC,” Caryl says. “It probably needs to be repaved, but we’ll work on drainage before any repaving is done.”
Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Ford Park parking lot just east of Vail Village. They will be transported up the path to work until noon. A free lunch will be served atop Vail Pass before heading back down to the valley.
“We’re going to do something a little different than just a trash pick up,” Caryl says.
To prevent the harmful effects of this erosion, volunteers will help install “wattles,” or tubular devices that drain better than the traditional hay bales, Caryl says. The wattles cover more ground and aren’t as ugly, Caryl says.
“We’re asking people to help install wattles where the trail is being undercut from drainage coming off highway,” she says.
Volunteers will also pick up trash and install safety signs on stretches of trails that can sometimes be a little slippery, she says.
Caryl said she suspects most of the litter comes from passing cars, not bikers and hikers.
“People are slobs,” she says.
Caryl also says she hopes both folks who regularly use the path and those who are just committed to keeping the High Country clean will show up Saturday.
“We are going to spend a little time on the very popular, much used Vail Pass trail to improve its condition,” Caryl says. “In the past, we haven’t just gotten people who use the path all the time. We also have backcountry folks come up who are just committed to trails in general.”
Signs will be installed on a few stretches of the 1970s-era path where bikers who don’t use the trail regularly need a heads up, Caryl says.
“There are a few locations where we probably ought to give the infrequent or first-time user a little notice,” Caryl says. “Where the trail goes under I-70, debris sometimes sometimes flows across from Polk Creek and people who get caught unawares might slide.”
Signs will also be installed on some of the path’s sharper curves, she says.
The Colorado Department of Transportation closed the path Monday and Tuesday to dredge sediment out of the drainage ditches that run alongside the path and freeway.
The path, which is maintained by a CDOT road crew from Frisco, was closed from the Black Lakes at the summit to Polk Creek.
Caryl says she doesn’t have any numbers, but she believes the path is used heavily just about every sunny day.
“On a recent weekday morning, I saw at least 20 to 25 people cruise by,” she said.
Transportation, tools, trash bags and safety vests will be provided to Saturday’s volunteers. But folks are urged to bring gloves, sun screen, a rain jacket and water bottles.
For more information call 476-5704 or 328-3523.
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.