Gentler path coming to Red Mountain trail system

Josh Wheeler of Progressive Trail Design uses a mini bulldozer to cut a new section of trail on upper Red Mountain in Glenwood Springs. The new trail will provide a gentler route as part of the existing trail network on the city-owned site.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

There’s a new longer but less strenuous dirt path in the works to get up and down Red Mountain on bike or by foot.

The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA), with funding assistance from the city of Glenwood Springs and Alpine Bank, is spearheading the construction of 2.4 miles of new dirt trail that will make the trek a little less of a challenge than using the existing fall-line trails.

The switchback route, which is already about a quarter of the way complete, will wind up the east side of the mountain without crossing the main road up to the cross. The access road and existing dirt trails will remain open to hikers, bikers and other nonmotorized use.

A little over one mile of the existing Jeanne Golay Trail is also being improved. What will eventually be a new, continuous 3.5-mile trail will be called the Grandstaff Trail, in remembrance of William Grandstaff who lived and died on top of the mountain and in whose memory the cross was originally placed. His is also the namesake of Grandstaff Canyon outside Moab, Utah.

“The uppermost segment is now complete, and many water diversions were created or improved in the process,” RFMBA Executive Director Mike Pritchard explained. “A difficult crux section of trail was also rerouted to better fit the character of the rest of the trail.”

Improvements on Red Mountain are part of a larger soft trails master plan developed by the RFMBA in recent years for the Glenwood Springs area. The plan will also result in a new dirt trail system on city and BLM land at South Canyon, and calls for new trails to eventually be staked out and built on Lookout and Iron mountains as well.

The trail work on Red Mountain is being done by Progressive Trail Design, which has done work in the Roaring Fork Valley on the Airline and Hummingbird trails outside of Aspen and has built trails all across the country.

Pritchard said the existing steeper trail segments will remain open, but once the new trail is completed use patterns will be monitored to help guide the long-term management plan for the Red Mountain area.

“During public comment [for the trail master plan] it was clear that many trail users in fact enjoy the old fall-line trail,” he said. “That’s good, since having different types of trails for different users will help reduce user conflict and overall enjoyment for everyone.”

RFMBA is also working with the city on a plan to install better signage on the trails, Pritchard said.

The city has been instrumental in helping to fund the trail planning and construction effort, including dedicating another $30,000 for the trail construction to be completed over the next six to eight weeks. That money was taken out of the city’s conservation trust funds, rather than general tax dollars.

City Council members have been supportive of the trail-building efforts, saying it will help draw mountain biking and other trail enthusiasts to Glenwood Springs and in turn add to the city’s tax base.

Although trail construction will continue for several weeks this summer, the upper sections of the new trail are for the most part complete and ready to use, Pritchard said.

“We want trail users to recognize while construction is ongoing that safety is of the utmost concern,” he said. “Anyone curious and poking their way through the new trail segments over the coming weeks should use true caution and give the trail contractor both space and time to accomplish the project safely and on schedule.”

In addition to the trail work on Red Mountain, RFMBA, the BLM and the town of New Castle are partnering to develop a new trail system this summer north of the Castle Valley and Lakota Ranch neighborhoods.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.