Boulder County Parks and Open Space Heil Valley Ranch Trails

Boulder County Parks & Open Space has been analyzing possible trail connections between Hall Ranch, Heil Valley Ranch, and the town of Lyons. This process is intended to result in an implementation plan for connections between the town and the open space properties.

During 2005 the County defined a number of possible alternative trail alignments to make the connections and held public meetings to gather comments and to review the plan. The staff has made recommendations about their preferred alignments. The Boulder County website has the planning documents, meeting results, and maps at Boulder County Parks and Open Space Heil Valley Trails. The staff's most recently recommended trail map is available at BCPOS Staff Heil to Lyons Trail Recommendations.

BMA was pleased to see the County taking action on these long awaited regional trail connections. We were particularily interested in the Heil Valley Ranch to Lyons connection because it completes a critical portion of a Boulder to Lyons foothills trail alignment. We were also extremely interested in seeing a second loop trail created within the property as called for in the County's North Foothill's Open Space Management Plan. BMA's detailed recommendations and the associated BMA map are available at BMA Preferred Trail Alternatives and BMA Preferred Trail Alternatives Map.

BMA supported the majority of the staff's final recommendations and appreciates their efforts in developing the trail plan. There was one remaining significant issue to be resolved, the fate of a proposed new loop trail. The alternatives were to build no trail, a small, or a longer trail. The staff recommended the smaller trail option.

BMA believes the longer trail option is the most appropriate. We support providing a balance between visitor access and environmental protection. In this case, we believe the trail plan should emphasize the quality of the recreational experience. Creating a longer loop trail that extends from the overlook to the junction of the Wapiti and Ponderosa Loop trails will reduce user conflict by dispersing users while providing a high quality recreation experience. With much of the Heil Valley Ranch closed to the public and the new trails sited in areas that are already open to the public, we believe the effects of the longer loop trail will be minimal.

BMA organized local mountain bikers to let the County know how importance the Heil Valley Ranch trails and a larger second loop are to the mountain biking community. We encouraged bikers to send emails, sign petitions, and show up at the County's Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee (POSAC) review of the plan. We filled the meeting room with well spoken BMA members. POSAC voted to support BMA's recommendations, including the larger loop option! To everyone that sent an email, signed a petition, and especially to those that stood up and spoke, THANK YOU! It really made a difference.