Rocky Mountain National Park officials are studying the development of two new biking trails in the park.
Cycling in the park now is allowed only on roads, not trails. But park officials are considering a 15.5-mile nonmotorized, multi-use trail running from Estes Park's Fall River entrance to Sprague Lake as well as two miles of mountain-bike-friendly singletrack along the East Shore Trail near Grand Lake.
"This would provide another mode of transportation for people to access the park and use the park," said the park's planning chief, Larry Gamble, on the potential trail along Fall River Road accessing campgrounds and trailheads on the east side of the park. "Our goal is to look at a trail system that would link up with trails that are being planned in the Estes Valley."
On Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced $2.2 million in trail development grants for Colorado, including $337,000 for Estes Park to expand 2.5 miles of multi-use trail along U.S. 34 between the town's visitor center and the park entrance.
Biking advocates have been elevating pedaling in national parks as a variety of users vie for access to trails. Last July, the National Park Service (NPS) allowed local park superintendents more leeway when mulling cycling access.
A 2009 study determined it was feasible to develop a multi-use trail running alongside Fall River Road nearly 16 miles from the park entrance to Sprague Lake.
Park officials also are in the middle of an Environmental Assessment studying the introduction of bicycles on a two-mile stretch of the East Shore Trail along the banks of Shadow Mountain Lake near Grand Lake. Public viewing for the proposal is scheduled for this summer, with a completion of the assessment expected in the fall of 2013. The park soon will begin an environmental review of the Fall River Road trail and is soliciting public input at a 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Estes Valley Public Library.
Neither of the stretches of potential bike trail is within the park's designated wilderness.
The proposed cycling trails in Rocky Mountain National Park won't necessarily be a huge draw for mountain bikers.
"We're fine with that. Our philosophy is to go slow and work with parks that really want to expand their bike options," said Mark Eller of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. "Any attempts by the NPS to get more familiar with and enthused about multi-use trails is great to see."
Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, email@example.com or twitter.com/jasontblevins