By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Valley residents interested in plans to improve mountain biking, hiking and other recreational uses in the Prince Creek area near Carbondale have until June 30 to make their feelings known.

That is when a public comment period on the draft Prince Creek Open Space management plan will come to an end, followed by what Pitkin County recreation planners hope will be the start of construction of a new trail alongside the road leading to trails in the Crown area adjacent to the Prince Creek Divide that connects the Prince Creek and West Sopris Creek areas.

The county, along with officials from area public lands management agencies, held an open house at Carbondale’s Town Hall on June 19, at which they focused on such details as the proposed creation of a parking lot at the Bull Pen field near the Flying Dog Ranch (see illustration) and a trail that will hug the contours of Prince Creek itself in order to get bikers off the Prince Creek Road and reduce potential safety hazards for bikers and motorists alike.

At first the new trail will be limited to the stretch between the Bull Pen open space (roughly 3-4 acres purchased recently by the county open space board) and the existing trail area known as The Crown, is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The BLM is starting its own parallel review process, which may ultimately lead to creation of a parking area separate from the Bull Pen field. In that case, according to Pitkin County Open Space officials Gary Tennenbaum and Jessie Young, the county may opt to sell the Bull Pen space if it is not used for parking.

All told, the trail along the Prince Creek Road route is ultimately expected to start at Highway 133 and continue to the BLM border some two miles east of the highway, though there currently are gaps in the county’s rights of way (near the highway, and adjacent to Flying Dog Ranch) that preclude building the complete trail.

As part of the planning process, Young told some 30 members of the public at the town hall meeting that they will be conducting a “Town-To-Crown” informational and educational campaign to get out the word about the trail improvements and related facts.

The Prince Creek Trail plans, including illustrations and maps, can be found at the county’s web site.