Given a choice, Summit and Park county residents overwhelmingly preferred a Hoosier Pass recpath that runs separate from existing roads, a potentially costly and complicated option for the proposed trail from Breckenridge to Alma.
More than 80 percent of people who attended public meetings on the potential recpath said they would prefer to see a trail that runs apart from all roads, over other options, which included widened shoulders along Highway 9 or a path following neighborhood roads.
But the separated path is a tall order.
"It's the most technically challenging and also probably more expensive than the other two," Breckenridge planner Scott Reid said. "But the benefits would be that it serves more people."
A detached recpath provides a trail that is safe for regular users - officials have often thought of Blue River and Alma residents who commute to Breckenridge to work in planning the trail - as well as recreational users and families.
A consultant is currently in the process of doing a feasibility analysis of the recpath proposal and various options. The report will be released in the coming weeks.
The Hoosier Pass recpath would run roughly 17 miles from the existing trail in Breckenridge through Blue River to another path in Alma.
"It's basically filling in a gap between two recpaths that already exist," Summit County open space and trails resource specialist Katie Kent said.
The challenge will likely be finding a route for the new trail in Blue River, where it would be difficult for the trail to avoid driveway accesses or crossing private property.
Blue River officials have asked that the path not be pushed too far out of town either, due to its potential to become an important route for commuters.
"I definitely see it as being used as a commuter route," Blue River Town Trustee Rob Theobald stated in an email to the Daily. "The path could also be a great recreational amenity to the town, and could possibly provide for future economic growth."
Very early estimates place the cost of the new recpath at roughly $1 million per mile. Kent said the county hopes to fund much of the planning, design and construction through various grants.
Summit officials are also working with Lake County and Climax Mine to extend the recpath system over Fremont Pass as well.
The Fremont Pass recpath may prove to be less challenging than Hoosier's, as the mine is the only impacted private-property owner. Climax has been supportive of trail-expansion projects in the past.
Together, the Hoosier and Fremont pass projects could add roughly 39 miles to the Summit County trail system.