Hikers enjoy hiking the extensive trail ...
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
Hikers enjoy hiking the extensive trail system along the Arkansas Hills trails near the mountain town of Salida.

Think you can design a trail in the Crystal River Valley better than the experts? Now you get the opportunity.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is using interactive technology to give an unprecedented opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty of a public works project. Interested members of the public will be able to dive into four areas — environmental-wildlife factors, engineering challenges, user experience and costs — to help design trail segments.

The proposed trail has been divided into 20 segments where the public can choose between two alternative routes after weighing the four factors. An existing paved trail runs about 8.5 miles south of Carbondale to BRB Campground. The current planning process focuses on the roughly 20-mile stretch from BRB to the summit of McClure Pass. A trail is contemplated to someday run between Carbondale and Crested Butte.

Color coding helps readers determine if the factors such as cost or environmental impact are a low, medium or high concern for each segment.

The online tool provides a crystal-clear way to show the tradeoffs that come with decisions. For example, the cost of having the trail hug Highway 133 along a 1-mile stretch at Avalanche Creek would cost an estimated $8.16 million due to limited space and complex structural options. But splitting the trail off the highway corridor to save $3 million would affect elk winter range, bighorn migration areas and undisturbed habitat.

Read the full story at

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