The summer of 2014 brought the first wave of recreation improvement projects to this much loved backyard playground of Aspen. With RFMBA participating in the multi-year cooperative planning process, and now in the annual implementation process, you can expect new and improved trails and signage on an annual basis.
The cooperative nature of the plan is based on the fact that the White River National Forest has limited resources to focus and invest in our public lands. We’re fortunate that the City of Aspen, Pitkin County, and other partners, including ACES, have been able to step in to increase the resources available for managing this federal public land.
RFMBA worked to design a major re-route of the Iowa Shaft Cutoff trail. Working with RFOV, volunteers completed the project in August, 2014. While the trail is only about a 1/2 mile long, it is now rideable in both directions, and has started to change the way trail users navigate the Hunter/Smuggle area. This re-route is phase 1 of an effort that will see new connector trails added to the system to help separate users and keep riders on singletrack rather than old doubletrack routes. These connector trails (Lollipop to Iowa Shaft Cutoff + ISC to 10th Mt. Bridge) are proposed for construction by volunteers during summer 2015.
The Hummingbird Trail, was designed in part by RFMBA & approved by the WRNF, and contracted for construction by Progressive Trail Design (as funded by Pitkin County) in 2014. Construction on the Hummingbird, which will connect the Hunter Creek Trail (out beyond the uppermost bridge) to the top of Lower Plunge, is expected to start May 2015. We’ll be riding the trail by June or July 2015!
A program for improved signage throughout the area was delayed during 2014, but expected to be implemented during 2015. Minor trail improvements in seasonal wet zones & ongoing trail maintenance projects will be prioritized in future summer seasons. The Upper Roaring Fork Trails Plan is expected to propose some incredible singletrack additions to the system, ensuring the HC/Smuggler area will remain a local’s and visitor’s favorite.
The Cooperative Plan is not just focused on recreation. Helping to ensure we have great places to ride means that paying close attention to the forest and the habitats they provide are a very valuable component of the plan. Learn more about current and future forest health projects from this Nov. 2014 Aspen Daily News article: Seeing the Forest for the Trees.