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Peaks Trail Bypass to Protect Wetlands

Published: March 17, 2016

Peaks Trail Bypass to protect Cucumber Gulch

If you were able to stop every local on the street and ask them: “How did you end up living here?” an overwhelming majority would tell you that they “came for the winters, fell in love with the summers, and never left.”

Among its many summertime activities, Summit County is a world-class mountain biking destination. One of the most popular trails, the Peaks Trail, is an 8.1-mile single track from Breckenridge to Frisco that can be hiked or biked with access points on either end. Anyone who rides to or from downtown Breckenridge to the trail inevitably follows a trail that runs through Cucumber Gulch, a wetland wildlife preserve.

The preserve is home to many species, including: a state-endangered boreal toad, moose, elk, deer, mountain lions, beavers, and more than 70 bird species. Many gondola riders have spotted some of these rare animals from above as they pass over the gulch on the ride between the ski resort and downtown Breckenridge.

Vail Resorts approached Town Council last Tuesday hoping for approval to extend its summertime gondola hours. This would allow Vail Resorts to extend hours for its Fun Park on Peak 8. The park is a great family attraction, with mini golf, gold panning, zip lining, an alpine slide, scenic chairlift rides, chairlift rides for downhill bikers, and live music on the patio at the TBar.

Breckenridge’s Town Council has a vested interest in propelling the town forward. It has a reputation for looking at all sides of an issue and making fair decisions that benefit the town most. Its efforts have helped expand the trail system so that increasing town traffic has not overflown to our natural retreats, preserving the experience of fresh air, exercise, and the luxury of nature’s solitude and beauty.

Town Council responded to Vail Resorts’ proposal for extending gondola hours by re-opening a discussion they had prior to approving the gondola’s construction: what environmental impact does the gondola have on the wetlands? Nick Roe, a biologist with IRIS Environmental Systems, said the gondola would not result in substantial degradation. In building the gondola, Vail Resorts had taken measures to create a quiet, high-riding gondola to minimize its impact.

A negotiation occurred between the Town Council and Vail Resorts to benefit the town and its environment in several ways. Vail Resorts will extend its summertime hours. The company will also work with the town to create a new trail connecting downtown to the Peaks Trail, bypassing Cucumber Gulch. This Peaks Trail bypass is set for completion by October 31, 2019.

This agreement is an example of the cooperation between local government, its business and the local culture that is dedicated to preserving our natural playground. It also highlights how much Breckenridge has expanded its summer traffic. Breckenridge is increasingly becoming a year-round destination – and not just for vacation. A steady flow of people continue to transplant their lives up to our Rocky Mountain communities to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and beautiful landscape.

For more information about this topic, check out this Summit Daily Article.



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