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Peaks Trail threatened by base area?

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
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BRECKENRIDGE – The impending development of residential and commercial facilities at Peak 7 and the associated relocation of County Road 3 have spurred concerns about impacts to the popular Peaks Trail, connecting Breckenridge and Frisco along the flanks of the Tenmile Range.The trail is already heavily used and could get hammered even more once the new development is completed, according to several members of the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Council (BOSAC). Also at issue is the limited amount of trailhead parking, which is being used by people accessing the ski area’s lifts.The trailhead near Peak 7 will be within spitting distance of the new base area complex. Project architects said that, based on preliminary plans, there will be a 30- to 40-foot buffer between the development and the trailhead.

BOSAC members discussed the Peaks Trail at a January meeting, with several members of the group advocating for a new trailhead further away from the base area.”With the ski area that much closer … it could get so much use that it will be ruined,” said Eric Mamula, who also serves on the town council. The situation is comparable to the dynamics at the Burro Trailhead near Peak 9, he said. “That’s a significantly different trail than it was 15 or 20 years ago.”Mamula is also concerned about the parking spots at the trailhead being used by people headed for the lift-served skiing at the resort. Breckenridge Ski Area officials indicated a willingness to try and mitigate that problem, he added.The Forest Service is not inclined to move the trailhead, said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the Dillon Ranger District. Citing budget and personnel constraints, Waugh said such a relocation is not on the radar screen. But he said the grassroots Friends of the Dillon Ranger District support group will monitor conditions on the trail this summer.Enlarging the trailhead might exacerbate wear and tear on the trail, said Forest Service lands expert Paul Semmer, explaining that the limited parking capacity helps govern trail use.

“For a variety of reasons, we’ve decided to leave it as it is,” Semmer said.That’s disappointing to BOSAC member and trails advocate Scott Yule, who said he uses the Peaks Trail twice a week.”With the new lift (the Peak 7 Independence Superchair) we’ve seen a lot more downhill skiers parking there,” Yule said, explaining that, based on license plate observations, it’s mostly locals using those parking spots.Yule also advocated for moving the trailhead north, and perhaps extending the trail into town. Acknowledging that might be a pipe dream, he said there are some access opportunities that could be stimulated by discussions on the Peak 7 base area development.

Getting around Cucumber Gulch to connect the Peaks Trail with town is one of the most significant challenges, but Yule said there’s a “land bridge” that might work in cooperation with private landowners in the area.”It would be so much easier to do something now, before everything is built,” Yule said. “There are some opportunities here to create some separation.”Yule concluded that the Peaks Trail is regionally significant and needs to be stewarded as an important resource. Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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