New mountain bike trails open to the public in the coalfield near Redstone

Arvada’s Reece Classen descends the flow trail on Bear Ridge.
Trina Ortega/Courtesy Photo

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

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

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

“We’re calling it a soft opening because we don’t have permanent signage yet, and we’re continuing some of the trail building 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 for coalfield mining until the mines closed in the early 1990s.

Five separate mines once operated on the site, from 1956 to 1991, producing 23 tons 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 railed out of the Roaring Fork valley.

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

The land is now owned by Crystal Basin Holdings LLC, which is owned by heirs to the Walton family estate of Walmart retailer fame.

The site has now been redeveloped as what Ortega described as “a community asset to advance healthy landscapes and healthy lifestyles”.

The trail system includes a cross-country trail along a mountain stream through Douglas fir and spruce and a downhill trail through an aspen forest. The trails feature multiple jump lines, pump tracks, and even a Strider track for younger kids.

The former coal mine site has undergone several decades of reclamation. 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 area.

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

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

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

“A private landowner building and maintaining trails on their property that are open to the public is unique and we believe needs public support,” he said.

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

“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 wide range 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 welcome cyclists and families with children of all ages, providing high-quality fun while developing the skills of each rider,” Pritchard said in the release. “Exploring the ranch’s trail system provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the area’s industrial past and examine ongoing rehabilitation efforts to improve the ecological health of the area, all while enjoying the present moment, surrounded of the magnificent forest and mountainous horizon of Coal Bassin.”

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, employing positive ethics and etiquette, and being good stewards of the land.”

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