Green Lake Trail finds new route

by Will Sands

The Green Lake Trail has surmounted obstacles, fostered consensus and reached a successful end. Construction of a mutually agreeable reroute is presently underway, and local residents can count on accessing an enhanced Green Lake Trail in coming weeks.

With the appearance of the Trappers Crossing development in 1990, the Town of Crested Butte and developer Ron

green lake trail
Jay Bristow and Greg Allum are part of the trail crew reconstructing and redirecting Green Lake Trail. photo by Charlotte Krag-Jensen

Spence entered into an agreement, part of which entailed the permanence of public access to Green Lake. This access was to be either in its current location or in a new spot designated by Trappers and approved by the town.

Dissatisfaction with the existing trail gave both Trappers Crossing and the town cause to pursue an alternate route. The old trail crossed several Trappers 35-acre parcels, and the prospect for conflicts existed. A new Green Lake Trail was first discussed during the summer of 1995, but only recently did the issue make true progress.

An ultimatum from the council to Spence, negotiations with individual property owners and a decision to hire a trail builder have culminated in the present construction of a reroute. Arrowhead Trails staff have been working on the new trail for the last couple weeks. Their work is now nearing completion.

"1 think we're going to have a high quality trail," says Crested Butte Town Council member Gary Sprung.

"I think in some ways it will be better than the original. The part leaving town will be gorgeous," Sprung adds.

The Green Lake Trail reroute takes off from the middle of Journey's End Road, climbs up through the fir and pine to a traverse through the aspens. The route then connects with the old trail for a one-third mile climb up Baby-Head Hill. From there, the trail takes off on singletrack again for three-quarters of mile to Wildcat Road, where users intersect with the old trail for the final push to Green Lake. The trail will be well marked.

One of the major obstacles to this reroute was getting individual property owners to endorse a new trail across their property.

Bill Abraham, president of the Trappers Homeowners Association, is responsible for bringing the owners to the table.

"In rerouting, we had to go back to the various property owners," he says. "Rerouting sounds simple, but you have to deal with each property owner, which we successfully did."

Abraham is pleased that his and others efforts have produced this end result. "We are very excited," he says. "It has been a long, long ordeal. We're happy to see it getting done. It's been confusing to the public and confusing to the homeowners."

Like Sprung, Abraham is confident that the new trail will be a good one. He hopes that the public will return the homeowners' efforts. "We're really hoping that it'll be a two-way street and people will stay on this trail," he says. "There are a number of other trails up here, and if people are just going helter skelter everywhere, what's the point? This new trail is a nice one, and it's worked out so it's not going through someone's front yard."

Abraham also asks that trail users begin and end their trips in town.

"We really are wanting to encourage people to come on the trail in town. It's become a habit for people to come up Wildcat Road and start the trail half-way," he notes, saying that he counted 13 cars on the road last Saturday.

Sprung agrees that the public has a responsibility to the homeowners. "I'm glad that we can finally get this Green Lake Trail issue resolved with Trappers and the homeowners," he says. "I'm sure the public and homeowners will find the experience of that trail to be beautiful. I hope the public will respect the rights of the homeowners and stay on the trail."

A portion of the new trail opened last Tuesday and parts of the original trail closed. The section leaving Journey's End Road is now available for public use. Access to Baby Head Hill from the Bench and a small spur leaving First Street have been closed.

"We have already closed off the trail that heads up out of town just by First Street," says Town Manager Bill Crank. "We've also had difficulty with motorcycles and horse going up Baby Head Hill. We closed that off Tuesday."

Crank anticipates that with only one section of reroute needing substantial work, the new trail will be completely open soon. "Other than having Arrowhead staff complete the construction and get that one area worked out, it's pretty much done," he says.

With the help of the homeowners, the town has prepared a set of regulations for the new trail. Dogs must be leashed when on private property. Motorized vehicles, horses and pack animals are prohibited. And, the trail is restricted to pedestrians, bicycles and nordic skiers.

Crank extends his thanks to the property owners. "The town is very appreciative of the property owners agreeing to relocating an easement onto their properties when they didn't have to do that," he says.

Crank adds, "We'll ask the local users to cooperate and use the trail under the regulations that have been established. We'll also ask that people not use the old trail."