Rec and roll time at Copper Mountain as Ten Mile Canyon recpath extension begins |

Rec and roll time at Copper Mountain as Ten Mile Canyon recpath extension begins

Breeana Laughlin
Summit Daily/Breeana Laughlin

Summit County and U.S. Forest Service workers have gathered at Copper Mountain’s Far East lot this week to start construction on the Ten Mile Canyon Recpath extension.

The $1.3 million extension and improvement project was dreamed up five years ago, and the organizers are eager to bring it to fruition.

Heavy equipment and vehicles in the parking lot are a welcome sight to Brad Eckert, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails.

“It’s a big project with a lot of moving pieces,” Eckert said. “It’s been well thought out. We are hoping to meet all our goals so the public can really enjoy this new section of the recpath.”

The project will connect the Ten Mile Canyon Recpath with the Vail Pass Recpath near Highway 91 and will also connect to the highway at Copper Mountain’s Far East parking lot on the east side of Hwy. 91.

The new path will take bicyclists and other users away from a service road on a segment parallel to the river where a utility path is currently located.

“Now they can stay behind the Conoco on an existing grade, cross the bridge and not interface with the motorized public as they come in and out of the Conoco,” said Shelly Grail, a Forest Service snow ranger whose been helping to coordinate the project.

The county has worked with a variety of stakeholders to design the extension, including the Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers and public and private agencies to minimize the impact on wetlands and to protect public resources, such as the public use of the Colorado Trail, Eckert said.

A river restoration project in the same area is also slated to begin at the end of the month. Although the projects are separate, organizers said they will compliment each other.

“When you have a completed recpath and a complete river restoration you are going to have a much better recreation experience in that area,” said Steve Swanson, executive director of the Blue River Watershed Group.

The Ten Mile Canyon Recpath extension project meets two major goals for the county, Eckert said. Traffic on the service road makes the current recpath configuration confusing and potentially dangerous.

“Cleaning up the area and making a good connection between the Ten Mile Canyon recreation pathway and the Vail Pass recreation pathway is a huge component of this project,” Eckert said.

The project also contributes to the goals laid out in the county’s master plan to connect the recreation pathway system in Summit County to neighboring counties, he said.

“It specifically mentions the connection between Fremont Pass and Lake County and Leadville,” Eckert said.

The county’s vision is to stretch the Ten Mile recpath up the pass near Climax Mine and into Lake County.

“If the goal is to connect Summit County’s network with the other counties, there is a lot of work to keep us busy for a while,” Eckert said.

The county plans to continue to extend the pathway as funding and grants become available.

“Recent improvements or construction on the recpath have been funded about 80 percent by grants and other partners, so we feel like we are getting good value for the dollar,” Eckert said. “That’s contributed heavily to the growth of the recpath.”

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.

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