New Breckenridge trail in historic Galena Ditch now open

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news
Special to the Daily

Summit County and Breckenridge open space programs teamed with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to complete the construction of two miles of new trail along the popular historic Galena Gulch Trail.

The new singletrack trail, open to non-motorized use, connects the Tiger Dredge Trailhead with the trailhead at the historic Tiger Town site south of Tiger Road.

Originally constructed during Summit County’s historic mining era, the trail network will construct its new trail by reopening a historic ditch for non-motorized recreational use.

The Galena Ditch, originally constructed approximately 100 years ago to convey water to area mines, will be reopened to accommodate hikers and mountain bikers traveling between the popular Horseshoe Dredge Trailhead and the three forks of the Swan River and the Colorado Trail.

As a part of the Breckenridge master plan for open space, the area has an extensive existing trail network that crosses through town and county open space and sections of the White River National Forest.

“This is a very popular area for hikers and mountain bikers,” said Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, spokeswoman for the town of Breckenridge.

Approximately 70 volunteers from Volunteers for Colorado assisted the county and town to create approximately two miles of new trail along the Galena Ditch Aug. 4-5.

With the construction of this trail, users can now avoid Tiger Road and connect onto existing trails while seeing many of the area’s historic mining features.

While this is considered an intermediate singletrack trail, Ryan Lewthwaite of the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department warns that “this trail is more challenging than it looks, good balance is a must while riding it due to steep side slopes next to the trail.”

In recent years, Summit County Open Space and Trails has worked with the Summit Historical Society, town of Breckenridge, and others to protect the site of this historic dredge.

Water diverted through Galena Ditch was utilized by Stanley Revette’s operations during the mining era to drive a hydraulic elevator located in the vicinity of what is now the final resting place for the Bucyrus #4 Dredge.

This “elevator” technology used water pressure to create a vacuum capable of bringing rock and gold from near the bedrock, approximately 35 feet below the stream level, to sluices located on the surface.

Developing the trail will expand the area accessible by recreationalists, connecting to several other trails while navigating through some of the area’s most historic mining centers, Dykstra-DiLallo said.

“Creating connectivity between these trails will allow hikers and bikers to get off of Tiger Road and onto more intimate trails,” Dykstra-DiLallo said.

Both Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge Open Space programs have prioritized expanding and maintaining trails throughout the Upper Blue Basin to enhance the quality of life in and around Summit County.

Within the Golden Horseshoe area alone, the Town and County jointly own over 3,000 acres. Summit County took the lead to acquire the property and easements needed to complete the Galena Ditch trail, including the 55 acre Ballarat Placer protected as open space in 2011.

“Our partnership with the Town of Breckenridge continues to be a vital component of protecting open space and enhancing recreation opportunities in the Upper Blue Basin,” said Brian Lorch, Director of Summit County Open Space and Trails. “We appreciate the assistance of the Town in purchasing properties and coordinating the trail work necessary to make this great this new trail available to the public.”

Parking for the Galena Ditch trail is located near both ends of the new trail, at Tiger Townsite trailhead and at the Tiger Dredge Trailhead near Summit Gulch Road.

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