New Alpine Slide bike trail to break ground in spring at South Canyon 

Volunteers work on the uphill portion of the planned Alpine Slide trail in South Canyon.
City of Glenwood Springs courtesy photo

The area where the old alpine slide used to sit on city land in South Canyon just west of Glenwood Springs is on track to be turned into a new mountain-bike trail by next summer. 

“There’s going to be a lot of sculpting and features,” said Mike Pritchard, the executive director for the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA), which is partnering with Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation on the project. “We want to get the flow of the trail right, and we want to ensure that those features are built really safely.” 

Earlier this year, the RFMBA and the city of Glenwood Springs got volunteers together to build the uphill-climb portion of the trail. Come spring, they will have a contractor work on carving out the downhill terrain, project officials said.

Volunteers work on the uphill portion of the planned Alpine Slide trail in South Canyon. (City of Glenwood Springs/Courtesy photo)

Slated to be a unique park-style trail for the region, the Alpine Slide Trail is in the final steps for completion. 

“There’s going to be alternate lines which are kind of bigger, more challenging jump features, and then, there’s going to be many portions of the trail that are going to just require a whole lot of moving soil,” Pritchard said. 

The trail has been in the works in recent years after the area was already carved out from the prior alpine slide — a metal structure that used to run down the mountainside in South Canyon. The slide has not been in use for several decades.

“Volunteers contributed 320 hours of work over the course of four Thursdays in September to build a portion of the new Alpine Slide trail,” Bryana Starbuck, Glenwood Springs public-information officer, wrote in an email. 

The city is contributing $15,000 to the project, with additional funding coming from the RFMBA. 

“That money will go to help pay for this project, and then, the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, through other fundraising efforts, will be supplying the rest of the funding of the project,” said Dan Roper, Glenwood Springs parks superintendent.

The downhill part of the trail will require a contract company to properly carve out the trail. The city selected Gumption Trail Works as the contractor.

“It’s going to be utilizing the old footprint of the Alpine Slide with all those large berms you can see on Google Earth pretty well,” said Chad Smith, Glenwood Springs trails and open-space supervisor. “When the actual trail starts getting built, they will completely change and sculpt what’s going to turn into the new downhill-only bike slide.”

Satellite view of the old berm marks from the former alpine slide in South Canyon (center of image) where the new bike trail is to be completed.
City of Glenwood Springs courtesy image
The planned new bike trail, uphill in dark blue and downhill in light blue following the former Alpine Slide route.
City of Glenwood Springs courtesy image

Construction is to begin in the spring once it is dry enough on the mountainside. 

“This is the last of the approved trails to be built in South Canyon,” Roper said. “The current trails that are out there were built five years ago. This is the last piece of that proposal.”

The trail is intended to be accessible for both beginner mountain bikers and more advanced riders. People can walk up one side and ride down the other, he said. 

“We normally tell people when it comes to a descending on the trail, we want people to pre-ride, re-ride, free ride because, of course, we want people to know what’s coming ahead and know how to ride the trail safely and have a whole lot of fun with it,” Pritchard said. 

He said the first ride down, people won’t necessarily know what’s coming. So, they want people to be cautious and climb back up and do it again.

“It was built to be about 6% grade, which is a really generous kind of climbing grading,” he said. “So, don’t feel too stressed to climb back up and do it again.”

Volunteers work on the uphill portion of the planned Alpine Slide trail in South Canyon. (City of Glenwood Springs courtesy photo)

Currently, South Canyon has roughly 8 miles of single track with some of that being bike optimized, meaning it has some sections of downhill only use. The remainder is multi-use for hikers and bikers alike.

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131. 

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.