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New Trail, Big Scale
Grassroots activists chart a grand path through Colorado's foothills.
By Rachel Brand

The concept of a Colorado Front Range Trail, which first saw public light in 1999 as a north-south path through the soft foothills between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern plains of the state, matured during two years of planning into a much more ambitious 725-mile network of trails from Fort Collins on the Wyoming border to Trinidad near New Mexico.

Courtesy Colorado State Parks

It was inspired by a 250-mile trail through central Europe from Vienna to Prague, a web of former salt, silver, and amber trade routes that winds around castles, historic villages, meadows, and lakes. Once complete, Colorado's version—"a legacy for the state," according to Tom Glass of the Colorado Parks Board—would connect mining towns, state parks, cities, and college towns. The number of local trails would increase exponentially, promoting biking and walking to work for the rapidly growing population of 3.8 million people who live in the Front Range. Best of all, most of the network is in place or planned: With 190 miles of the trail already built, 260 miles more will be built in local jurisdictions, and 160 miles will travel along low-use roads. In the communities the trail would link, there is strong support among those who see it as a spur to tourism and economic development.

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