Anna Terranova, left, and Jodi Terranova run in the 10K at 10,000 Feet race on Rabbit Ears Pass. The trails lodging tax committee is evaluating several multi-use trails that are proposed to be built in the Rabbit Ears Pass area.

Joel Reichenberger/file

Anna Terranova, left, and Jodi Terranova run in the 10K at 10,000 Feet race on Rabbit Ears Pass. The trails lodging tax committee is evaluating several multi-use trails that are proposed to be built in the Rabbit Ears Pass area.

Committee discusses prospects of several new multi-use trails on Rabbit Ears Pass


— As he pointed Wednesday at a small line on a big map being eyed by 13 people, Aryeh Copa described how an old abandoned highway could take on a new life.

“It'd be your ultimate beginner trail,” the trail designer said about the possibility of renovating the fading portion of what used to be U.S. Highway 40 near the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass into an attractive multi-use trail. “It's truly kids with Strider bikes and grandmas who can ride this trail.”

Minutes later, Eric Meyer went up to the same map and pointed to a set of other squiggly lines nearby.

These, he said, could be a series of new downhill biking trails on Rabbit Ears.

The presentations about possible trails and terrain features such as jumps on Rabbit Ears represented one of the final chapters of the trails lodging tax committee's fast-paced but thorough vetting process.

The committee is helping the city of Steamboat Springs decide how to best spend an estimated $5.1 million in lodging tax money on trail projects throughout the next decade.

By next week, the group will have graded and discussed in detail all of the 46 projects that could be funded by those tax dollars collected from tourists.

The grading process already has made it clear that trails on Emerald Mountain and projects in the city limits are more feasible in the early years, while the more ambitious projects in areas like Buffalo Pass and Rabbit Ears still are years away from being ready.

It will be up to the committee and the Steamboat Springs City Council to decide which dirt should get moved first.

That process is slated to begin next month.

“I'm really happy with where we're at,” committee chairman Scott Marr said. “We just have a great team. Everybody here is working toward the same thing, and they're all on the same page as far as wanting to do things to improve the experience here.”

In addition to the seven volunteers on the committee, the meetings are attended by city staff and land managers from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

While the grading of in-town projects went rather quickly last month, the complexity of the projects on Forest Service and BLM land has spurred more debate and dialogue.

Committee members were excited last week about the prospect of a 20-mile Walton Rim Trail that would serve as another connection between Rabbit Ears Pass and Steamboat Ski Area, but wildlife officials said the scope of the project had the potential to significantly impact wildlife.

And Wednesday, discussions about all the other possible trails on U.S. Forest Service land raised a number of other questions, including whether the agency would be on board with projects that are specific to bicyclists and how all of the new amenities would be maintained.

Forest Service representative Erica Dickerson said the question of who maintains the projects would be a “perpetual question for this process.”

The trails committee will meet again at noon April 16 in Centennial Hall to finish its review of the Rabbit Ears projects.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10


brian ferguson 3 years ago

So a three foot wide strip of dirt has the potential to "significantly impact wildlife" says wildlife officials. Lets hope they feel that way when the ski area wants to blast a road into fish creek canyon.


brian ferguson 3 years ago

Talked to a guy who knows a guy that talked to a guy that said ski corp. was in the canyon this year salivating at the idea....and if no road, guided tours instead....bummer.


brian ferguson 3 years ago

...hells wall bungee jumping....good landing not needed.


Fred Duckels 3 years ago

This is a subject where emotions run high, hopefully decisions will be made by folks with their feet on the ground.


Scott Wedel 3 years ago

I'd want to get some experience building trails around here before projecting how much the longer trails will cost.

As for wildlife impact, in reality it would be minimal. But when the trail advocates say it will be a heavily used trail to justify building the trail then that level of usage would impact wildlife.

It appears the decision is more than whether to fund just one trail like Walton Creek Rim. That there are a group of trails proposed for Rabbit Ears that are interconnected so the question appears to be whether to focus on building a trail network on Rabbit Ears or not. Building one or two standalone trails up there probably would get much less usage until other interconnecting trails are built.


mark hartless 3 years ago

The decision is about $$$ and pollitical support or opposition. If the dollars make it look good then the EA will look good or be overlooked, even if it's bad. If the dollars or opposition look bad then the EA will be used to beat the proposal to death, even if the EA is Bullshit.

The wildlife, environmental impacts, etc, etc, are just the excuses used to exclude some while allowing others.


Vince arroyo 3 years ago

The Squiggly lines near by. The Old Ferndale Road, To go forward with this project. That is one of the great wildlife pristine areas of the county ! We ( I ) have been in that are area for a century . Please do not follow Through with this !


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