New mountain bike trails open at Coal Basin near Redstone


Reece Classen of Arvada walks down the flow trail on Bear Ridge at Coal Basin Ranch.
Trina Ortega / courtesy

A network of new mountain bike trails that was recently built on the former Mid-Continent coal mine site at Coal Basin near Redstone opened to the public this weekend.

The Coal Basin Ranch is an approximately 5 mile system of single track trails located on private land that will be open to the public starting Saturday.

This is part of an effort to demonstrate that trails can be an important part of land restoration, said Trina Ortega, ranch and trail manager, of this weekend’s “soft” opening. .

“We call this a smooth opening because we don’t have permanent signage yet and we are continuing some of the trail construction and restoration efforts,” Ortega said.

The trail network will be open to the public, free of charge, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day during this first summer season.

The private property where the trails are located was once the processing center of the Coal Basin coal operation until the mines closed in the early 1990s.

Five separate mines formerly operated on the site from 1956 to 1991, producing 23 tonnes of medium grade coal primarily used for US steel mills. Coal was mined at Coal Basin, trucked to a loading facility east of Carbondale, and transported by train out of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Mid-Continent closed its mining operations in 1991 amid mounting financial difficulties and a devastating underground fire that had to be extinguished by flooding the mines.

The ranch is owned by Crystal Basin Holdings LLC, which is owned by the Catena Foundation which was established by the heirs of the Walton family estate.

The site has now been redeveloped as what Ortega described as “a community asset for the promotion of healthy landscapes and healthy lifestyles”.

The trail system includes a cross-country ski trail along a mountain stream through Douglas fir and spruce trees and a downhill trail through aspen forest. The tracks feature multiple jump lines, pumping tracks, and even a Strider track for the little ones.

The old coal mine has undergone decades of reclamation. The trails are part of that restoration, Ortega said.

“We hope people enjoy the trail and reflect on the history of the area,” Ortega said in the statement. “Not so long ago, it was a heavily impacted industrial site. We work in partnership with the community to transform the land and provide a place where individuals can recreate and experience the landscape, ultimately discovering how they too fit into the unique history of this region.

The trails will also be open to local schools who wish to combine mountain biking and outdoor education programs, where students can get active while learning about restoration, sustainably constructed trails, stewardship and conservation, she said.

Access to the trails is possible through an easement established between the private owners and the County of Pitkin.

Gary Tennenbaum, director of Pitkin County Open Space & Trails, said the Coal Basin Ranch is the first of its kind in the county and called it a model for other landowners who might be willing to provide public trails on their site. property.

“A private landowner who builds and maintains trails on his property that are open to the public is unique and we believe he needs the support of the public,” he said.

Pitkin County will provide law enforcement assistance to ensure trail users follow ranch rules.

“The Crystal Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in all of Colorado and has been discovered by the public,” Tannenbaum noted. “Well-managed recreation can contribute to the tourism economy while protecting the vast array of natural resources that make Crystal Valley so special.

The optimized trail system is the first to be developed in the Crystal River Valley, added Mike Pritchard, executive director of the Roaring Fork Mountain Bicycling Association.

“The trails will be welcoming to cyclists and families with children of all ages, providing high quality fun while developing the skills of every rider,” Pritchard said in the statement. “Exploring the ranch’s trail system provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the area’s industrial past and envision ongoing rehabilitation efforts to improve the ecological health of the area, while enjoying the present moment surrounded by by the magnificent forest and the mountainous horizon of coal. Bowl.”

The free access is also unique, Ortega said.

“Some private ATV parks and ranches exist but operate on paid systems, while Coal Basin Ranch will be free to the public,” she said. “We hope the community can continue to enjoy these trails and this land for years to come, by staying on the trails, using positive ethics and etiquette on the trails, and being good stewards of the land.”

Senior Journalist / Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]


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