City of Fort Collins plans to add 30 miles to trail system

Fort Collins residents itching for an early morning jog or a late evening bike ride can currently choose from 32 miles of paved, hard-surface trails and more than 30 miles of natural areas and paths.

Fort Collins resident Bill Ashley walks his dogs on the Spring Creek Trail south of campus. Collegian File Photo.
Fort Collins resident Bill Ashley walks his dogs on the Spring Creek Trail south of campus. Collegian File Photo.

In the next 15 to 25 years, 30 additional miles will be added to that selection. Many of these additions are newly completed or currently in the process of expansion.

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“What we are doing is as the city expands, we continue to make a trail system for those new people in the community,” said Craig Foreman, director of park planning and development for the City of Fort Collins. “There’s quite a large area in northeast Fort Collins that has a pretty extensive trail system up there.”

Every 12 years the city does a citizen survey and the trail system is the most popular recreation amenity the city has, with a 95 percent approval rating, according to Foreman.

Foreman said a recent trail study revealed that 1.9 million people use the trail system annually, with the heaviest use being the Spring Creek Trail, followed by the Poudre Trail.

“Fort Collins is a very energetic community and citizens place a very high value on being outdoors and active,” wrote Marty Heffernan, executive director of recreation for the City, in an email to the Collegian. “Trails are an integral part of our lifestyle and we want to provide our community with the best trail system possible.”

The remaining section of the Poudre Trail from the Environmental Learning Center to Timnath is planned for two phases of construction: the ELC to the Strauss Cabin area, and the Strauss Cabin area to the east side of I-25 where the Poudre crosses under the road, according to the city website. The Spring Creek Trail is nearly complete, with only a few sections of improvement to be made in the next few years.

“We are in the process of finalizing a Paved Trails Master Plan that details trail additions, funding options and priorities,” Heffernan wrote. “We plan to take the draft plan to the City Council for consideration later this year.”

New trails, mostly planned for construction after 2015, include the Northeast Trails, which will develop as growth occurs in that area, the Boxelder Trail from the Strauss Cabin north to Prospect Road, and the Canal Trail, along the Pleasant Valley and Lake Canal from Harmony Road to the Spring Creek Trail.

According to Heffernan, the City is adding more trails to provide for areas that will be developed in the future – specifically in southeast and northeast Fort Collins – to better serve citizens, and to connect the community to neighboring areas like Loveland, Timnath, Windsor and Greeley.

“(The trail system) connects so well through the community if you think about parks, natural areas, neighborhoods, businesses, street systems – all of that,” Foreman said.  “We’re blessed to have a very well-supported trail system for the community.”

For more information on the trail system expansion visit fcgov.com.

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Managing Editor Emily Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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