Silverthorne hosts playground open house at Angler Mountain open space June 16 | SummitDaily.com

Silverthorne hosts playground open house at Angler Mountain open space June 16

Something wild is coming to Silverthorne.

Since last year, the town has been weighing potential renovations and upgrades at three parks in three distinct neighborhoods. One of the most promising is the Angler Mountain open space — a 12.5-acre parcel tucked away on the banks of the Blue River near the Angler Mountain Ranch community. About half of it is blanketed in lush, marshy wetlands, with no official trails or access points.

At the moment, the open space is completely untouched — remnants of long-gone mining activity are the only traces of people — and town officials have no intention of razing the surrounding old growth. So, they're getting creative.

"It's kind of a tucked-away little gem — you don't want to turn this into another Rainbow Park or ballpark," says Susan Lee, a planner with the town's community development department. "It's right along the Blue River Trail, but it's tucked away and completed undisturbed, with beautiful wetlands and elk and birds moving through."

“This space is so close

— in town, on the river

— but you still feel like you’re miles away from the highway and everything else.”Susan Leeplanner with Silverthorne’s community development department

Recommended Stories For You

She and fellow community planners are hosting an open house today at the Angler Mountain property. They'll guide tours, take resident input and even hand out a few freebies — all to fine-tune a master plan for the open space and its fellow in-need parks at Arctic Placer and Trent Park.

Here's where the creativity comes in: While the other two parks have infrastructure that simply needs polishing, Angler Mountain is a blank canvas — and Lee is intrigued by working with it.

One of the most promising concepts is something known as a "wild playground." A wild playground replaces steel and plastic with natural features, like posts for building teepees and interconnected trails for tag or hide-and-go-seek.

"It's a natural, wild playground," she says. "I like to think of it as a place where people of all ages can actively engage with their environment."

As she explains, wild playgrounds are a relatively new concept in the parks and recreation realm, but they're far from novel. Children have always played with their surroundings, skipping rocks across ponds or building forts with sticks and twigs. A wild playground simply gives visitors a comfortable space to explore.

At Angler Mountain, Lee believes the quiet, untouched environment and surrounding wetlands are perfect for the town's first foray into the wild-playground world.

"This space is so close — in town, on the river — but you still feel like you're miles away from the highway and everything else," she says. "This is really a spectacular environment, and it's in our backyard."

She points to a recent Denver project — the Johnson Habitat Park along Santa Fe Drive. It's small and secluded, with building posts made from trees found on the site.

"You're able to take off your shoes and walk through wet sand or build rock cairns with your hands," she says of the amenities provided at natural playgrounds. "You get to engage with the environment as opposed to seeing a static area, just the same thing over and over."

Along with a wild playground at Angler Mountain, the town is also weighing a trail system and boardwalk, similar to portions of the Blue River recreation path. The potential uses are in line with the town's 2014 Parks, Open Space and Trails master plan, or POST plan. After collecting community input, planners will pair with Denver-based consultants DHI Concepts to finalize plans. DHI has experience with wild playgrounds, Lee says, and oversaw construction of the Blue River path.

"One of our overarching goals for all trails and open space is to encourage the community to explore and experience nature," she says. "Whether it's just this park or the Blue River trail, our big goal is to get people outside. We saw this as a good opportunity, but just connecting to this park is a good first step. We want people to enjoy it."

Angler Mountain open house

What: A community open house to discuss potential renovations and installations at Angler Mountain open space, a 12.5-acre parcel south of the Silverthorne town core along the Blue River

When: Tuesday, June 16 from 5-7 p.m.

Where: Angler Mountain open space, Bald Eagle Road in Silverthorne

Cost: Free

Town officials will have a tent near the open space trailhead and lead residents on a tour of the property. Bring sturdy shoes. For more info on Angler Mountain and the two additional parks slated for renovation, see the Silverthorne parks website at http://www.silverthorneparks.com.