The Ten Mile Canyon recpath extension project is taking shape this week with the installation of a bridge that will let bicyclists and other recreational users get to the Vail Pass recpath.
“It was a major milestone for the project,” said Brad Eckert, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails Department.
The new bridge is 60 feet long and weighs 55,000 pounds. Once the surfacing on the structure is complete, it will allow project managers to get to the west side of the creek with heavy equipment. Workers will then pave the new stretch of path and complete the project, Eckert said. The bridge will accommodate emergency vehicles in the future.
When the project is complete, cyclists and other users will be able to get from the west side of Ten Mile Creek east toward Copper Mountain, where they can continue on the Vail Pass recpath. Recreationists will also have the option to continue along a newly paved trail on the west side of the creek, past Copper Mountain’s Far East lot to Highway 91.
The project contributes to the goals of the county’s master plan to connect the pathway system in Summit to those in neighboring counties, Eckert said. The county’s vision is to stretch the Ten Mile recpath up the pass near Climax Mine and into Lake County.
“This is another mile and a half of recreational pathway added to the existing Summit County system that will get us that much closer to connecting with communities outside,” Eckert said.
The $1.3 million Ten Mile Canyon extension project kicked off in early July, after about five years of planning. The project is designed to make it easier and safer for recpath users to navigate the area, taking them away from the service road by the Conoco Station on a segment parallel to the river, Eckert said.
In designing the extension the county worked with a variety of stakeholders, including the U.S. Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers and public and private agencies.
The project is being done concurrently with a river restoration project headed up by members of the U.S. Forest Service and the Blue River Watershed Group.
“I think the projects will tie together nicely. It’s going to be a great improvement to the river environment, and visually appealing when the bike path is finished,” Blue River Watershed Group director Steve Swanson said.
Eckert agreed. “There’s a lot going on in this little area. It’s pretty exciting.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation is providing $500,000 toward the Ten Mile Canyon project. Copper Mountain is offering $250,000 and the Climax Community Investment Fund is adding another $95,000.
The project could be finished anytime from early October to November, weather depending, Eckert said.