Summit County begins clearing Ten Mile Canyon recpath after historic avalanche season; Vail Pass recpath now open
FRISCO — Summit County’s summer cyclists have cause to rejoice, as the county government announced Wednesday that work had officially begun on clearing the recpath between Frisco and Copper Mountain. The county also announced the recpath section between Vail Pass and Copper Mountain has been cleared and is open for the season.
The Ten Mile Canyon recpath section has been buried under tons of debris since March, when an historic avalanche event triggered all 23 chutes in the canyon. Debris piles ranging from a few feet to more than 20 feet deep now cover a linear mile of the path across the 6.5-mile segment. Every summer, more than 30,000 cyclists ride that section of the path down to Frisco after being dropped off at the top of the hill on Vail Pass.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center gave the all clear to begin cleanup along the canyon after surveying its stability, according to the county.
Summit County Open Space and Trails resource specialist Jason Lederer said the county had reached an agreement with Gypsum-based contractor RPM Construction to do the clearing work. RPM beat out eight other bidders during the expedited request for proposal process.
Beginning Thursday, the contractor started using light machinery to push debris off the path, piling it to the side or chipping and hauling material off-site. Lederer said the contractor has committed not to push or dump debris into the waterways or nearby wetlands. The contract calls for payment of work up to $87,000 to be done within 25 days.
“We’re optimistic to do it faster than that,” Lederer said. “It kind of depends on what they run into. Some of the debris piles are quite large, and we’re not quite sure what’s in them.”
There also is the matter of whether the path has been damaged by avalanche debris, a fact that will remain unknown until the debris is cleared. Barring the need for significant repairs, Ten Mile Canyon should be clear for cycling as soon as the middle of July.
“We will closely monitor RPM’s progress as well as the condition of the recpath beneath the debris piles,” Open Space and Trails director Brian Lorch said. “Our goal is to open Ten Mile Canyon recpath as soon as RPM completes the major debris removal, unless the pathway has sustained substantial damage.”
The Ten Mile Canyon recpath segment will remain closed for the duration of the debris removal work.
With the Vail Pass segment between Copper Mountain and Vail now fully cleared of snow, cyclists can ride down Vail Pass into Copper Mountain but will not be able to continue into Frisco.
Recpath users accessing the Vail Pass recpath can use the Copper Mountain route on the free Summit Stage bus system to bypass the canyon and reconnect to the path after arriving in Frisco.
“We are grateful for everyone’s patience and support as we work through the process of removing thousands of tons of snow and timber to reopen this section of the recpath,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said.
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