Closure of Rio Grande Trail to last a little bit longer |

Closure of Rio Grande Trail to last a little bit longer

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

A closed section of the Rio Grande Trail in the midvalley will reopen Friday afternoon – four days later than its regularly scheduled opening, which was supposed to be today.

The two-mile section of trail, located between Catherine Bridge and Rock Bottom Ranch, upvalley from Carbondale, is closed during the winter to protect wildlife. It will remain closed this week to accommodate ongoing repairs from multiple mudslides and rockslides that occurred last summer and to allow the installation of a vault toilet, according to Rob Comey, trail corridor manager for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

Trail users can, however, access the Buckhorn Trail near Rock Bottom Ranch, he said. The latter is a dirt trail that connects into the trail network on the Crown.

The closed stretch of trail will open at 5 p.m. on Friday. It was closed for the winter at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30.

The section of trail also was closed for six weeks last summer after a July 18 flood sent multiple rockslides and mudslides across it. In one spot, the debris was 22 feet deep, according to Comey.

“Basically, the initial repairs were to get it open. What we’re doing now is final repairs that will preserve the initial repairs for an extended period,” he said.

The work is being done on the downvalley end of the closed segment, away from the sensitive heron rookery closer to Rock Bottom Ranch, Comey said.

A stretch of the damaged trail probably will remain unpaved until June. Fencing work and revegetation of areas affected by the slides are also still to be done.

RFTA allocated about $82,000 last year to clear and repair the trail. This year’s work will require roughly $60,000, according to Comey.

Also next week, a vault toilet will be installed along the trail above Catherine Bridge, and a second one will be placed along the trail in the Cattle Creek area between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The latter project could require a trail detour Friday onto County Road 109.

With the Rio Grande Trail attracting some 70,000 excursions by users annually, RFTA decided last year that it was time to install some toilet facilities along the 42-mile route. Each will be a single-seater capable of handling an estimated 15,000 uses before the toilets need to be pumped out, according to RFTA. The agency teamed with Garfield County to apply for a $44,623 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to build two vault toilets and two picnic shelters.

The Rio Grande Trail connects Aspen to Glenwood Springs via a former railroad corridor. RFTA manages the trail between Emma and Glenwood Springs, while Pitkin County Open Space and Trails manages the Rio Grande within the county’s borders, between Emma and Aspen.

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