By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff

The Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) organization is working on new hiking, biking and equestrian trails in the Crown area off Prince Creek Road near Carbondale, and the group is inviting participation from anyone in the area who has an interest in improving the trails in that area.

According to the RFOV website, the work projects began on the evening of July 25 and are to continue every Tuesday evening through Aug. 15, from about 4 p.m. until dusk.

“If you have a busy schedule, just show up whenever you can to the BLM (U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which owns much of the land containing the trails network), parking lot, which is located 4.6 miles up Prince Creek Road” from its intersection with Highway 133 south of Carbondale, the website states. Dinner and drinks will be provided to volunteers doing the work.

The project goal is to build new single-track trails around the Crown, as a way of “taking strain off the current Prince Creek Trail,” the website explains. “Ultimately, this will create a safer, more enjoyable experience for everyone who uses this trail.”

Carl Nelson, field coordinator for RFOV, explained that the project is to build a trail from the existing parking area to a proposed new parking lot about a mile and a half downhill from the current parking area, a trail that will contain some variations along its route.

“In areas where it’s tight,” Nelson said of the terrain, “one trail will be uphill and the other will be downhill,” and the trails will be narrow enough that single-file travel will be necessary for bikers and those on horseback.

Nelson acknowledged that the Pitkin County Open Space & Trails department, which is in charge of improving the trails that parallel Prince Creek Road, has not made a final determination as to whether the proposed parking lot (located on an easement granted by a local rancher) will actually be built.

Some observers have maintained that a parking lot at that location might be hazardous due to curves in the adjacent Prince Creek Road.

But, Nelson said, even if that is not the final site for a new parking lot, mountain bikers or equestrians heading for the Crown trails system can stay off the narrow and sometimes congested road by taking the new trail.

Nelson said that perhaps 15 people showed up for the first RFOV trail-building Tuesday, but felt that some stayed away because it was raining that evening.

He said he expected more on Aug. 1 and at subsequent trail-building Tuesday sessions.