Carbondale’s Red Hill trail access, new parking area to open on Tuesday
After several months’ worth of construction to make for better trailhead access, commuter parking and realign a county road, the popular Red Hill Recreation Area near Carbondale is set to reopen to the public Sept. 1.
Improvements include separate dedicated parking areas for park-and-ride commuters and for trail access, and a newly aligned Garfield County Road 107 that provides a straighter route to residences in the area and eliminates direct conflicts with recreational visitors.
In mid-May, Garfield County contractors began work on the Red Hill Road realignment project, creating a straight-shot alignment with the intersection of state Highways 82 and 133.
“The project was designed to address several issues,” according to a joint county and town of Carbondale press release issued Thursday.
In addition to fixing the previous awkward road alignment with its hairpin turn, the project primarily sought to reduce conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
The former small parking area situated on the hairpin turn that commuters and trail users shared is now replaced by two, larger dedicated parking lots on the northwest side of the intersection.
A connecting trail between the two parking lots and trailhead improvements were recently completed by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers crews, working with the town and the Red Hill Council, which oversees the recreation area.
The old historic trailhead about a quarter-mile up the road has been decommissioned and is no longer accessible, according to the press release.
The lower parking area is for commuter parking and overflow trail parking, which is expected to come in handy on weekends in particular when the trail system is usually teeming with hikers and mountain bikers.
The project was funded by the town and county in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Aspen Valley Land Trust.
AVLT made a major donation by raising $1.35 million through its Save Red Hill campaign to secure the formerly privately owned 25-acre parcel of land where the new parking lots are located.
The town then led a public planning process to design new trail connections, including the addition of three new trail alignments from the base of Red Hill up to the existing trail network.
“This is the perfect example of what we can accomplish when we work together, and speaks to the value of connecting people with special places,” AVLT Executive Director Suzanne Stephens said in a separate statement on the project completion. “We are proud to know this community treasure will be here for us forever.”
According to the town’s press realease, while the parking areas will open on Sept. 1, there will still be some minor work that will be occurring on the project after Labor Day (Sept. 7).
“This work includes some additional paving work at the intersection, fencing and the completion of the southern portion of the lower parking area, once a new electric meter for the signal is installed,” according to the release.
Some traffic delays are possible until that work is completed, but the parking areas and roadway are to remain open, the release stated.
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