Expanding on success of Lupine Loop

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— The Routt County Riders and the city Parks and Recreation Department have a dream of building new singletrack mountain bike trails from the base of Howelsen Hill to the quarry on Emerald Mountain.

"With each improvement we do up there, we come closer to having world-class trails on Howelsen," Routt County Riders vice president Brad Cusenbary said. He was expecting to introduce a plan of work to his membership Thursday night detailing the next round of trail improvements on the city's open space park on Howelsen.

The quarry on Emerald Mountain is among the most popular destinations for mountain bikers and hikers in the Steamboat area. That's partly because of its accessibility -- downtown office workers can easily hit the trail over a long lunch hour.

However, the route to the top is on an old road known as Blackmer Drive, or via old trails that were never engineered and have become undesirable because of erosion.

Cusenbary and city open space supervisor Mike Neumann have something else in mind. They want to build a properly engineered trail that will allow cyclists to climb all the way to the quarry on singletrack. It's the riding experience that every mountain biking enthusiast craves.

"With the favorable response to the new Lupine Loop trail, we hope to complete another segment of trail improvement this fall," Neumann said. He added that other groups, including a trail running club and the Over the Hill Gang, might take part in the work. The new trail replacing the old "Loop 4" will be eight-tenths of a mile.

Lupine Loop is a new section of singletrack completed last month by teenagers employed in the Community Youth Corps.

The trails replaced by the Lupine Loop attacked the fall line on Howelsen too directly, and in some cases, there were unnecessary parallel trails, Neumann said. The new trail work also will result in undesirable old trails being shut down.

Cusenbary said that ever since Lupine Loop opened, he has avoided Blackmer Drive.

Neumann said the construction of Lupine Loop was accomplished with a portion of a larger $10,000 grant received from Great Outdoors Colorado through the Colorado Division of State Parks. The city matched that amount with $6,000.

If Cusenbary's membership approves, the Routt County Riders will donate labor and cash to help accomplish the newest trail improvements on Howelsen Hill.


-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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