Dave Pike, Craig Parks and Recreation director, strolled Thursday along a dusty, cactus-bordered trail. The Sandrocks loomed above his head.
“This is city property along here,” Pike said. “This is what’s called Panorama Park.”
The trail extends eastward from a cul-de-sac at the northern end of Alta Vista Court, follows along the base of the Sandrock cliffs, and ends at private property near Green Street.
Along the way, the rocks are adorned by carvings. Some carvings are petroglyphs. Some are acts of vandalism.
The city land, which occupies a narrow corridor alongside the base of the cliffs and a larger tract at the top of the cliffs, was the subject of a report by Pike at a recent Craig City Council meeting.
Pike said the land above and below may someday be further developed by Craig Parks and Recreation.
It started when some residents who live at the base of the cliffs approached the city about off-road vehicles being driven above their homes, Pike said.
As a result, the city may seek to restrict traffic from driving near the edge.
“The neighbors would like to limit the access by vehicles up there so people don’t leave debris — beer bottles (and) trash,” Pike said.
Wind can blow trash onto people’s lawns, and worse.
Some people throw items from the cliff top, he said. And, in June 2007, three people died when the Jeep Cherokee they were riding in went off the cliff near Green Street.
“We could probably limit the access to all of the edge of the Sandrocks by fencing off the city property with something decorative, maybe some split-rail fence or something like that,” Pike said. “So, then you wouldn’t have vehicles in there and you could develop a (non-motorized) trail that goes all the way across the top.”
First, however, parks and recreation has three projects that are higher priority: the skate park on Baker Drive, Breeze Park and open-space acquisition, Pike said.
Pike said his department has received approval for skate park improvements, which may include a concrete skate bowl to replace aging ramps.
Pike also plans to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado Grant to improve Breeze Park’s irrigation, parking, landscaping and to replace its playground equipment.
And, the city is interested in purchasing the southern end of Craig City Park from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265.
“So, those three projects are kind of in front of this one,” Pike said of Panorama Park. “You can put in for more than one grant at a time, but it’s very seldom that one municipality gets awarded two grants during a cycle. And, we just don’t have the financial resources to match that many grants at a time.”
Nonetheless, fencing to prohibit vehicles from approaching the cliff edge may begin as early as next year.
“I’ll probably address the fencing in this year’s budget workshop,” Pike said. “However, I haven’t even priced it out yet, so I wouldn’t even know how much it would cost to keep our property from getting a lot of vehicles on it and tearing it up.
“It’s a really nice opportunity to put a trail across the top of the Sandrocks. But again, it comes down to financial resources.”
The fencing would be set back from the cliff edge, but would still allow other users to enjoy the view from near the precipice.
“It would be like a Forest Service trail,” he said. “It wouldn’t be concrete, but it would be a pedestrian and bicycle and horseback trail.”
As far as developing a trail below the cliffs, Pike is less certain.
“It’s just never been a high priority to develop it because it doesn’t go anywhere,” he said. “You can’t link it with anything.
“All the locals know about it. It’s just not … in my opinion, the stuff up top would have a higher priority as far as developing it into a pedestrian (and) bicycle trail than the stuff below. I think it would get a lot more use because you can link it to other parts of town, and you have a lot more opportunity to do stuff with it.”
Pike said crews are nearing completion of a new section of the Ridgeview Trail, a pedestrian and bicycle trail.
“All that’s left is to put in the bollards to keep traffic from going in there,” he said.
The new 3,000-linear-foot section extends westward from Sunset Elementary School to Finley Lane. There, the trail connects with the previously built trail that extends to the Ridgeview neighborhood on the western edge of town.
Combined, the trail is about two-and-a-half miles long, Pike said.
The first section of the trail was built in 2004. Construction of the new section began earlier this summer and it cost about $50,000, Pike said.
“Everybody would like to have what Steamboat has, and that is a ridiculously sweet trail system along the river,” Pike said. “But, that takes natural corridors to do. And, we don’t have a lot of natural corridors here in town.
“One of the natural corridors we had from the school was the old Craig Ditch.”
Craig Ditch, an irrigation ditch, was established in the 1800s, but had been out of use for decades. The trail was built atop the land the ditch used to occupy.
Pike said there are no plans to extend the Ridgeview Trail farther eastward, because there isn’t a natural corridor heading in that direction.
“The Craig Ditch was abandoned and given back to property owners east of Sunset Elementary School … about 20 years ago,” he said.
Ben McCanna can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.