Connecting the middle of Breckenridge with the backcountry |

Connecting the middle of Breckenridge with the backcountry

Shauna Farnell

BRECKENRIDGE – It’s no secret that Breckenridge is home to some of the best singletrack in the world, and, due to a recent deal between the town and some private landowners, trail access is on the rise.

The East Moonstone Trail, which is about a mile and a half long and begins between County Road 503 and Baldy Road, has recently come to fruition as a bona fide Breckenridge trail and henceforth will be known as the Australia Gulch Trail.

“About half the trail is on town and county open space parcels and some is on private land,” said Danica Rice, planner for Breckenridge Open Space and Trails and founder of the Friends of Breckenridge Trails nonprofit group. “(The easement) is not entirely complete, but verbally, everybody’s on board. It’s a wonderful connection. It connects from town, out to Sally Barber Road, which is the closest gateway to (the trail system) in the Golden Horseshoe. It’s a really nice trail with a lot of great views.”

Breckenridge acquired the East Moonstone parcel as part of the Summit County Land Exchange. Seven private landowners were involved in the negotiation, and the trail will be finished by the end of the summer.

“John Vincze is a big mountain biker and skier, and he worked with some of the other landowners and convinced them of what an asset the trail is,” said Breck trails planner Heide Andersen. “The trail is really important because it connects the town of Breck with the Summit County trail system. It really opens up that access from the middle of town to the backcountry. Before, you’d have to get on a road to access the trails (without trespassing). I think it’s just an amazing intergovernmental community project. It’s a really important link. There were some significant trespass issues. Hopefully, this will keep people on one trail and off of others.”

The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps worked on the trail last week, and July 19 will be the first Friends of Breck Trails work day on the Australia Gulch Trail. About a quarter of a mile of the trail needs to be built, but the Friends, with the help of the Summit Fat Tire Society, will complete it by September.

Breck Open Space and Trails is also in the process of expanding and refining the trail system in the Golden Horseshoe area, but a deadline for finishing that project is a ways down the line.

“We’re working on the trails master plan for the Golden Horseshoe that incorporates trail mapping, conditions orienting, designation of trailheads, use separation between motorized and nonmotorized,” Andersen said. “We are really coming up with a systems trail network and closing trails that are nonsustainable. It’s a spaghetti web of trails out there. But the trails master plan will take years. The (Australia Gulch Trail) will be a good precedent as we move into the Golden Horseshoe.”

The river trails

Breckenridge Open Space and Friends of Breck Trails are also installing trails along the Blue River.

About a dozen Friends volunteers installed about 800 feet of singletrack on the west side of the Blue near Valley Brook Road in Breckenridge Saturday and Breckenridge Open Space and Trails officials plan to extend it to Airport Road. There is already a social trail worn, but the volunteer group are building a sustainable trail in its place.

The trail will be foot-traffic only, but Breck trail planners are also going to install a trail on the east side of the river for mountain biking and freeriding, which will be completed by the end of next summer.

“We’re looking to have some freeriding components, which will be good publicity for mountain biking,” Andersen said. “We wanted to keep the trails separate for pedestrian traffic and mountain biking to make it a good experience for everyone.”

The next project for the Friends of the Breckenridge Trails is July 19 on the Australia Gulch Trail.

Meet in the back parking lot of Breckenridge Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. and plan to finish around 1 p.m. For more information, contact Danica Rice at (970) 547-3155.

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