Carbondale Red Hill trail reopening likely another month out, as road construction progress is slowed by large boulders
Hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts will have to wait a few weeks longer for the popular Red Hill Recreation Area trails near Carbondale to reopen, as new road and parking lot construction continues.
Carbondale Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman said Thursday that, because of the size of rocks that construction crews have encountered while dismantling the old roadway, the project has taken longer than expected.
“They have been running into boulders bigger than most of us anticipated under that old road, and it has taken a lot more time to dig those out and break them up,” Schorzman said.
The rock pieces are being used for rip-rap to stabilize the embankment above the new, more direct Garfield County Road 107 route that accesses residential neighborhoods east of the Red Hill trail network, he explained.
Originally, project officials had expected a four- to six-week trailhead closure when the work began May 18.
Monday will mark six weeks, and Schorzman said it’s looking like another four weeks at this point before the trails can reopen.
The project is being jointly funded by the town of Carbondale and Garfield County, with cooperation from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Land Management. The Red Hill Recreation Area is on BLM land.
Once completed, the project will include:
- A straighter approach from CR 107 to state Highway 82, allowing for a dedicated turn lane.
- Two new parking lots to the north and west of the intersection; a lower lot for commuter ride-sharing and an upper lot for direct trailhead access, doubling the previous parking capacity.
- Reduction in pedestrian/vehicle conflicts on the road.
Last week, traffic to and from the residential areas was diverted onto a temporary switchback road while the old roadbed is being dismantled, Schorzman said.
Project officials are also hoping to complete a pedestrian trail to connect the gravel lower and upper parking lots for easier foot access to the trailhead, he said.
“It will be easier to do that now, instead of waiting,” Schorzman said.
While the parking lots will have signs designating them for commuter and trail used, it’s likely that weekend trail users will be able to have overflow parking in the lower lot when there’s less demand for ride-sharing use, he said.
In the meantime, commuters are still advised to use alternative park-and-ride lots at the town-owned parking lot just east of Town Hall on Colorado Avenue, and at the rodeo grounds east of town.
Other than some landscaping work, once the trailhead reopens there should not be any construction activity taking place, Schorzman said.
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