Rio Grande Trail fans, it’s time to vote.
The local trail is one of five across the nation that have been nominated for inclusion in the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame. Public voting begins today and continues through June 15. Go to railstotrails.org/HOF-Vote to cast a vote.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the voting will decide the 30th entry into the Hall of Fame. Inductees are chosen on such merits as scenic value, level of use, trail amenities, historical significance, excellence in maintenance and management, and more.
“We have a smaller population base than some of the other nominees, but we’re hoping the Roaring Fork Valley’s passion for the Rio Grande Trail will put it on top when the votes are counted,” said Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.
The 42-mile Rio Grande Trail, running the length of the Roaring Fork Valley, connects Aspen and Glenwood Springs and the towns in-between, taking recreational users and commuters past rural ranchlands, open space, historic landmarks and alongside the Roaring Fork River. The trail is managed by Open Space and Trails within Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority between the county boundary and Glenwood Springs.
The trail traces its history to the great train race into Aspen in the late 1800s, when the Rio Grande Railroad edged out the Colorado Midland to be the first to set track into Aspen to serve its silver mines. In 1997, a consortium of local governments, with help from Great Outdoors Colorado, acquired the former railroad corridor for $8.3 million and went about creating the Rio Grande Trail.
Today, thousands of local residents and visitors use the trail year-round to bike, walk, jog and cross-country ski. The Rio Grande Trail is an integral part of life in the Roaring Fork Valley, earning it a spot among the Rails-to-Trails Hall of Fame contenders.