Summit County recpath extension opens for business with ceremony

Summit County officials — together with representatives from CDOT, Copper Mountain Resort, the U.S. Forest Service and Climax Molybdenum — celebrated the grand opening of the Ten Mile Canyon recpath extension Thursday, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on one of the project’s two new bridges.

“I think it’s a great enhancement to the overall trail network in Summit County,” Copper Mountain president and general manager Gary Rodgers said. “It’s really a vast improvement for bikers.”

The extension includes a reroute of the paved trail to better connect with the Ten Mile Canyon and Vail Pass recpaths at Copper Mountain. The new route avoids using a busy Interstate 70 frontage road used to access the gas station near the Copper Mountain exit. Instead, the new trail follows Ten Mile Creek behind the gas station and loops around to the Highway 91 traffic light at the entrance to Copper.

“It was not as safe before,” U.S. Forest Service district ranger Jan Cutts said of the change. “This is a huge benefit to the public using this area.”

In addition to the bypass, the extension includes 1.4 miles of new trail that runs farther south along Ten Mile Creek toward Fremont Pass and Leadville.

“I think it’s great,” avid rider and Summit County resident Leslie Aaholm said of the new path. “Riding this section of bike path is like taking a walk in the national forest.”

Aaholm and number of other members of Summit Biking club were in attendance at the ceremony clad in cycling gear and ready to ride the new segment.

The $1.4 million project is part of a long-term plan that could potentially extend the county’s 57-mile recpath network into neighboring Lake and Park counties.

County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said the larger plan is contingent on an environmental impact study and funding.

“In an ideal world — once environmental analysis is done and we have funding — it wouldn’t take very long to complete it,” he said. “We’re connected to Eagle County now headed toward Vail. We want to be connected to Lake County heading over to Leadville. Then down the road our vision is to see how we can connect to Park County too, and Clear Creak as well.”

Summit County Open Space and Trails director Brian Lorch said that plans for any further expansion are in their early stages.

The most recent extension was jointly funded by Summit County, Copper Mountain, Climax Molybdenum and CDOT. Future plans would also be part of a joint effort with interested parties and the U.S. Forest Service, Lorch said.

Currently the county is exploring plans to extend the trail up Fremont Pass to Climax mine.

“We’re looking at working with the Forest Service on the environmental analysis, hopefully sometime in this year,” Lorch said. “We’re pushing through as fast as we can.”

He said that representatives from Climax mine are onboard with the project, which could potentially extend into Climax-owned land on Fremont Pass.

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The Summit Daily Updated Jul 3, 2014 09:36PM Published Jul 4, 2014 06:36AM Copyright 2014 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.