Thanks to almost $2.5 million in improvements to Horsetooth Reservoir, local hikers will be able to access the Blue Sky Regional Trail from the reservoir without paying a fee before the end of 2010.
The popular 15-mile foot and horse path, which stretches from Devil’s Backbone to Lory State park, runs through Horsetooth Mountain Park. Those hoping to access the trail from Horsetooth are currently required to pay the $6 entry fee for the park.
The Field of Dreams neighborhood play field, an open field and baseball diamond on the southwestern bank of the reservoir, will be converted to a parking lot and trailhead where hikers and equestrians can reach the trail.
The trailhead is just one of several projects being constructed at the reservoir by Larimer County, which officially manages the recreational services at the reservoir, Larimer County Budget Director Bob Keister said.
Two new camper services buildings, featuring showers and handicap-accessible restrooms, were built early last summer at the Inlet Bay and South Bay areas on the southern end of the reservoir, Senior Ranger Will Talbot said. Projects including trail and campground improvements, as well as the trailhead and a new swim beach, have not yet been completed.
The new swim beach will be built at the Sunrise Day-Use area on the northeastern bank of the reservoir. Converting the currently rocky shore to a sandy beach will involve a great deal of construction, but will alleviate crowding at the reservoir’s only swim beach at South Bay, Talbot said. Construction on the beach has been delayed due to high water levels in the reservoir.
South Bay campground will see improvements of its own, namely the construction of a new day use area, including picnic tables and a beach volleyball area.
Rotary Park, a popular rock climbing area on the east bank of the reservoir, will have one mile of new trails and a sign describing the history of the area. Construction on the trails has already begun.
Currently, the total cost of the improvements is estimated at $2,432,000, said Debra Wykoff, business operations manager for the Larimer County Natural Resources Development.
The improvements are being funded in part by a $695,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, a fund that distributes Colorado Lottery dollars to outdoor recreation projects across the state.
The Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and operates the reservoir as a part of the Big Thompson water project, has contributed just more than $1 million toward the improvements, Wykoff said. Larimer County’s Department of Natural Resources will contribute $733,000.
Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at email@example.com.