As the Eagle Valley Trail, CO, Nears Completion, Excitement Rises. But So Does The Difficulty and Expense

Ryan Kime | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Hiking in Vail Valley, Colorado.
Hiking in Vail Valley, Colorado. pc: vail daily

Work Nears Completion

Work steadily continues this summer as the Eagle Valley Trail inches closer to completion, now down to the last 12 miles. The Eagle Valley Trail is a bike-pedestrian route that extends 63 miles across Eagle Country, Colorado. It starts at the top of Vail Pass before winding its way west through Vail to Minturn then Edwards and finally landing in Eagle (no pun intended).

Map of the progress for the Eagle Valley Trail, Colorado.
Map of the proposed Eagle Valley Trail, Colorado. pc: outtherecolorado

A Long History in the Making

The vision for the trail has a long and interesting history. Prior to 1940, the only two routes west out of Denver were one risky and treacherous road over Shrine Pass (as if your life depended on it), or two, a meandering two-lane country road all the way to Minturn. That stood as the decision-point for travelers until 1973 when a man by the name of Charles “Charley” Vail broke ground on his grand idea: a highway over Vail Pass.

The following year in 1974—and Vail being the community of bike enthusiasts they are—they advocated for the creation of a pedestrian-bike route. Starting initially as the Vail Pass Trail in 1974, the trail has gone through several iterations of names and developments to where it is today.

Monetary Sources

Funding for the project came through a myriad of different sources; government funds, grants by Colorado towns and organizations, taxes, and donations. As the project nears completion with the last 12 miles in sight, that doesn’t mean it will be an easy go from here. And with the final stretch now estimated to cost $38.2 million, it’s not surprising why.

The remaining costs will be paid for by $22 million in funding from Eagle Country Commissioners (who put main county campus buildings up as collateral), $13.2 million from “small contributions from local government agencies, larger grants from private foundations, and state and federal programs,” and “That last $3 million comes from private fundraising and that comes from our local community. As Sharkey said in an interview with the Vail Daily he believes, “It takes the whole valley.

Biking on the Avon section of the Eagle Valley Trail.
Biking on the Avon section of the Eagle Valley Trail. pc: Avon

The Final Push

Commenting on the project’s status in another interview, Eagle County Trails program manager Kevin Sharkey had this to say, We decided it’s time to finish this thing. We’ve got 12 more miles left, it’s well over $30 million, especially with construction inflation. The Country Commissioners have said, ‘Let’s just get this done.’”

Apparently, that’s what it sounds like the local residents feel as well. According to Eagle Valley Trail initiatives website, the intent is for the trail to “ensure our communities have safe routes that are accessible for all ages, abilities, and budgets” and to “shift to greener, healthier, and more inclusive travel.” So with the trail system planned to intersect with bus stops, commercial areas, and open spaces, this sounds like a success.

As Sharkey adds, “Anybody interested in sustainable tourism or bike tours, this should be on their list of places to go. Just because it’s a safe way to cover a lot of miles in a beautiful part of the country.”

We sure think so, too.

Scenic view above Avon, Colorado.
The scenic view above Avon, Colorado. pc: hiking project

Interesting Facts about Eagle Valley Trail Project:

  • Length: Approximately 63 miles
  • Estimated completion date: Near the end of 2024
  • Estimated costs for the last 12 miles: $38.2 million

Remaining sections of the trail to be completed:

  • Dotsero to Gypsum Duck Ponds / 1.7 miles
  • Horn Ranch to Edwards / 7.5 miles
  • EagleVail to Dowd Junction / 1.5 miles
  • Minturn Connection / 1.3 miles

Other connections to Eagle Valley Trail:

  • To the east, the trail connects to a paved trail in Summit County, eventually reaching Breckenridge.
  • To the west, the trail intersects with Garfield County trails which eventually connect to a paved trail network in Pitkin County.
Scenic view
Eagle Valley Trail, Colorado near dusk. pc: hiking project

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