Summit County, the U.S. Forest Service and the towns of Breckenridge and Frisco have partnered to groom the Summit County Recreational Pathway System between Frisco and Breckenridge, a new service that will enhance opportunities for winter recreation. Allowed winter uses on the Recpath include cross-country skiing, bicycling, walking, snowshoeing and other non-motorized recreation.
The towns of Frisco and Breckenridge will each groom about half of the 7-mile stretch of pathway between them; grooming is scheduled to take place twice per week, unless otherwise dictated by the weather. Grooming operations will remain within the 16-foot-wide Recpath footprint, and the pathway is free for the public to use.
“I’ve been hearing about the possibility of grooming the Recpath between Breckenridge and Frisco for 10+ years, so it is exciting to be part of the team finally making it happen,” said Diane McBride, Frisco Director of Recreation and Assistant Town Manager. “Frisco and Breckenridge partner on a joint pass at our Nordic centers, so this seems like a logical next step.”
The groomed section of the Recpath now extends from the new Dickey Day Use parking area at the top of the Frisco Adventure Park to Valley Brook Road in Breckenridge. The Town of Breckenridge was already grooming from Tiger Road to Valley Brook, and the additional grooming now effectively connects the Gold Run Nordic Center and Frisco Nordic Center, as well as both towns. The grooming services also increase winter trail access to and from Summit High School and several residential neighborhoods along the route.
“In essence, people should be able to ski between our great communities, as well as walk, fat bike and skijor free of charge,” said Scott Reid, Breckenridge Director of Recreation. “It is an effort to continue to provide world-class recreational amenities for our citizens and visitors.”
Grooming operations will include track-setting for classic Nordic skiers, as well as laying corduroy for skate skiers, cyclists and other non-motorized users. The project partners ask that cyclists and walkers avoid the classic ski tracks so they remain usable for skiers. Grooming will continue through April 30, as long as there is sufficient snow to prevent impacts to the pathway and surrounding natural areas.
“Winter recreation is a huge part of the soul of Summit County,” County Commissioner Dan Gibbs said. “Between Nordic skiers, fat bikers, runners and walkers, the public is really going to enjoy having this section of the Recpath groomed all winter, and we could not have done it without this partnership.”
CDOT’s Highway 9 Iron Springs project, completed in fall 2017, accelerated discussions about winter use on this section of the Recpath, which had been envisioned many years prior in the Upper Blue Nordic Plan. The project design included oversized highway underpasses to accommodate grooming equipment on the pathway below. And gentler grades on the new Iron Springs Recpath alignment made the path friendlier to Nordic skiing. In January, the U.S. Forest Service approved a grooming plan submitted by Summit County Open Space and Trails for enhanced winter recreation opportunities. The path is now groomed and ready for use.
“The White River National Forest is glad to provide this public access opportunity, which will enhance winter recreation and connect our communities,” said Bill Jackson, Dillon District Ranger.
Users are encouraged to be respectful and courteous to one another on the multiuse pathway and to use proper trail etiquette, including packing out all trash. Just as in the summer, dogs are required to be leashed when on the pathway, and motorized uses are not allowed. Pet owners are required by law to pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly in a trash receptacle.
The groomed portion of the Recpath is free to use, but trail passes are still required at the Frisco Nordic Center and Gold Run Nordic Center. Both of these Nordic centers, along with Breckenridge Nordic Center, offer joint passes, which may be used at all three locations.
To commemorate the new winter trail connection, the four partner organizations will hold a celebration on Thursday, Feb. 8, starting at 4:00pm. Everyone is invited to join in as local elected officials, staff and path users journey from Breckenridge or Frisco on the newly groomed recreation path, meeting at approximately the halfway point at the new section of trail closest to Dillon Reservoir. Here, at about 4:30pm, there will be brief remarks and a symbolic exchange of iconic items from each community.
A diversity of users, including skiers, bikers, walkers and snowshoers, are encouraged to be a part of this celebratory journey. The Town of Frisco and Summit County will start their trek at the new Dickey Day Use parking area at the Frisco Adventure Park, and the Town of Breckenridge will start its half of the expedition at the Gold Hill trailhead parking lot.
At present, there are no other proposals to expand winter grooming operations onto other sections of the Recpath, because of avalanche safety and wildlife concerns. For more information on the Summit County Recreational Pathway System, visit the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department at SummitCountyCO.gov/OpenSpace, or call Michael Wurzel at 970-668-4065.