Our view: Special place deserves special care
February 25, 2017
The city is working with the Trails Alliance to develop a second trail in Spring Creek Canyon for bicycles only.
A second Spring Creek Trail for bicycles could be a positive development if it improves safety and enjoyment of the groups of multi-generational walkers and hikers who have enjoyed the availability of a mountain trailhead for decades.
We believe a second trail in Spring Creek Canyon could be a positive addition if it restores some of the safety and serenity for hikers of all ages who have enjoyed the area for decades. The increasing mix of mountain bikes with families out for a peaceful walk there is making it hard for well-intentioned people in both camps to co-exist.
And it goes without saying that protecting critical wildlife habitat and safeguarding an intact natural environment rank above recreation of all forms.
The new trail is intended to segregate walkers from the increasing numbers of cyclists using Spring Creek to descend from the Dry Lake area on Buffalo Pass Road as much as possible.
City trail manager Craig Robinson said this week that Spring Creek is already one of the most heavily used trails here and will only get busier with the development of new mountain bike trials being completed by the 2A Trail Committee on Buffalo Pass. The project is being advanced by the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance and would be funded with lodging tax dollars through the 2A Committee.
Spring Creek has never been easy in the political sense of the word, with issues of access to private property and the importance of the winter trail closure to protect the elk that winter on the upper section.
Robinson said the goal of giving cyclists and walkers trails of their own is easier to achieve on the upper section above the switchbacks, where the land is controlled either by the U.S. Forest Service or the city. It's a little stickier on the lower segment along a historic county road with private property on either side. Hence, the plan identifies two distinct trail segments.
Spring Creek Trail presents that rare opportunity to access a mountain trailhead that can be easily reached by joggers, bikers, dog walkers and hikers who live in Steamboat Springs without the necessity of getting into an automobile. It's one of the places we send visitors for an introductory hike.
But Spring Creek Canyon is more than that. The canyon is also a living classroom, in which students from nearby public schools can learn lessons about how different plants flourish on the canyon's north- and south-facing walls.
If the city can execute this ambitious plan, while remaining sensitive to the natural environment that makes the area so appealing, we'll all benefit from it.
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