Ten years after the vision of a multi-purpose trail from Wyoming to New Mexico was put into action, Douglas County has now acquired all the necessary land to piece together an unbroken trail corridor linking Arapahoe and El Paso counties.
With the recent acquisitions of the 26-acre Martinez property east of the Tomah Road exit — just north of Larkspur — off Interstate 25, as well as the Iron Horse Open Space to the north, the county now owns all the necessary land to link the Cherry Creek Trail at the Arapahoe border to the Greenland Open Space Trail to the south.
The Colorado Front Range Trail, which could someday connect 15 cities, 14 counties and many smaller towns and communities, expects to span 876 miles once it is complete. Spearheaded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the project has over 500 stakeholders, including federal agencies and communities along the trail, working together to complete the vision.
“Douglas County actually has a fairly large chunk of it already developed,” said Cheryl Matthews, Douglas County open space director. “We still have to get from Columbine Open Space, which is about six miles south of Castle Rock, into Castle Rock someday in the future, but in the meantime, we now have that final link to get from Columbine to the El Paso County line.”
The Greenland Open Space Trail on the south end of the county already connects to the New Santa Fe Trail, which runs south through El Paso County, 43 miles down to Fountain. Once Douglas County develops all of the land it has acquired into trails one will be able to get to Fountain up into Denver County, utilizing eventual connections from the Greenland trail to the Plum Creek, Castle Oaks and Cherry Creek trails.
There is still one other plot the county hopes to obtain that will allow it connect the Plum Creek Trail going west to the High Line Canal, Platte Canyon and Chatfield trails, and connecting to the 470 Trail, which will give hikers and bikers the option of going east or west on the Colorado Front Range Trail while inside Douglas County.
For now, Matthews said, there is excitement in having that spine in place to run the trail through the county. As far as how quickly the necessary links get developed, she says a master plan process will begin this summer and the hope is that some of the trail work will begin in 2014.
“It is going to depend a lot on funding,” she said, adding that the county will apply for grant funding. “We could do it all in one year if we get enough money.”
The Douglas County commissioners approved the $675,000 purchase of the Martinez Property June 23, which includes the 26 acres of land, a 3,834-square-foot home that could be used for a variety of purposes, a 560-square-foot equipment building and 27 acre-feet of adjudicated water rights for the portion of East Plum Creek that runs through the property.