Pitkin County is leading an effort to explore the development of new trails in the Upper Valley. At issue is whether new trails are needed for users like mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians. The effort is also meant to stop illegal trails from being built.
The County is focusing on a 125,000 acre swath of public land that covers areas from Woody Creek to Independence Pass, and acreage in between.
Gary Tennenbaum with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails said the Upper Roaring Fork Trails Plan will guide trail planning for the next 10 to 20 years.
"A lot of the questions we get are about, when we propose a trail here and propose a trail there, everyone’s like, ‘well, where next?,’ or we get a lot of request from users to put new trails here and there, so we’re trying to look at this wholistically," he said.
The County’s partnering with the City of Aspen and Snowmass Village, as well as the Aspen Skiing Company and the Forest Service to find appropriate areas for additional trails.
Tennenbaum says factors like wildlife habitat and wilderness areas will be considered in the decision-making process.
"It’ll actually help a lot of people who are worried about unlimited trail development to see where trail development is preferred and to then assess that trail development based on a lot of factors."
The idea is to explore expanding the Upper Valley’s already extensive set of trails. For example, possibly connecting Aspen to Snowmass Village.
Another goal with the trails plan is to stop illegal trail development, particularly on Forest Service land.
"There are some trails that are illegal and you know, it’s the time to start thinking, should they become legal, or not, and if that area is appropriate for trail development," Tennenbaum said.
The County is holding a series of public meetings for different users of the trails. On Thursday, a pair of meetings will be held in Aspen for mountain bikers and for the hiking, running and skiing community. The groups will meet in the Rio Grande Room near the courthouse.