Hikers, bikers and equestrians will soon have better access to the scenic summer vistas afforded by the Telluride Ski Area. Judy Schutza of the Norwood Ranger District signed a decision notice last week to approve construction of six new trails throughout the ski area beginning late this summer. In the decision notice, Schutza wrote, “There is a need for expanded summer mountain bike, horse and hiking trails within the Telluride Ski Area. The resort towns of Telluride and Mountain Village are continuing to grow in size and popularity as a tourist attraction creating a significant demand for local recreation opportunities on the National Forest.” Five of the trails, already approved for construction, will originate from the St. Sophia Gondola Station. The sixth planned trail, named “O’Reilly,” is deferred until acquisition of public access across several privately owned mining claims is made. The Nature Trail, a short 0.2 mile trail, will be an interpretive trail that accesses the Telski Nature Center. The 2.0 Village Trail will be an easy traverse, particularly for bikers, linking the top of the gondola to Mountain Village Blvd. The See Forever Trail will span 3.7 miles and provide hikers with quick access to spectacular views along the existing See Forever ski run. The other two trails, Prospect Trail/Ten Trail, will be a 10.2-mile total network providing a more challenging experience for all users, linking the St. Sophia Station up into Prospect Basin and back down through Mountain Village to the Lot C Parking Structure. If legal access is obtained for the O’Reilly Trail, hikers will follow a 2.2-mile single track from Mountain Village to the town of Telluride. It would start at an inter section with the existing Boomerang Road and proceed east at mid-slope above the Valley Floor, connecting with the Telluride Trail ski run/road and the Bear Creek Trail. Funding for the construction of the trails comes from funds designated by Congress to the Forest Service in April 2003 specifically for the project. “The Town of Mountain Village went to Sen. Nighthorse Campbell’s office and were very persuasive,” said Schutza. “They went with this issue and were successful in obtaining funding.” The Forest Service received just under a half million dollars for the project. The money was received as “our regular appropriated money that came to the Forest Service,” said Schutza. “We couldn’t use it for anything other than building trails.” Schutza said it was to the credit of Mountain Village that the money was received. “We have worked with both Mountain Village and Telski in the planning and design of these trails.” Trail construction for the See Forever, Prospect/Ten and Village trails is expected to begin as early as August with completion estimated for the summer of 2007. A 45-day appeal period must follow last week’s decision to build the trails, and then the Forest Service must advertise for contract bids for at least 30 days before awarding construction contracts. Copies of the decision notice for this project are available upon request by contacting the Norwood Ranger District, P.O. Box 388, Norwood, CO 81423, phone 970/327-4261.