Idaho Springs receives grant for planning, design of Virginia Canyon Open Space trails

The Great Outdoors Colorado Board awarded a $62,000 grant to the City of Idaho Springs for the planning and design of trails in Virginia Canyon Open Space. The project was one of 10 awarded funding in a grant cycle with funding requested more than triple what was available.

Virginia Canyon contains 400 acres of mostly undeveloped land, and social trails have been used by the mountain bike community for the last decade. Social trails are informal trails created by the public, and often are not up to safety or sustainability standards. The master planning process will design the first network of multi-use trails in Idaho Springs, helping to further cement the city’s status as a destination community.

Idaho Springs envisions a system of trails that puts the area’s natural beauty and mining history on display. The trail system will ultimately connect directly to downtown, the Argo Mine and Mill, and potentially Central City and the Clear Creek Greenway.

GOCO funding will help establish a steering committee and will also select a consultant to lead trail development, public input processes, and collaboration with Colorado Mountain Bike Association (COMBA) and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC). They will develop a long-term operations and maintenance plan, and the final master plan will provide an essential guide to developing trails for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers.

The city aims to have the master plan completed by the end of summer 2018, with work to build trails beginning in the fall and being completed as early as summer 2020. Idaho Springs plans to begin construction with the help of volunteers for COMBA and VOC while pursuing further grant funding to bring the project to the finish line.

To date, GOCO has invested $12.5 million in projects in Clear Creek County and has conserved more than 800  acres of land there. More than $4 million in GOCO funding has supported the Clear Creek Greenway project, and GOCO grants have also been invested in the Tom Benhoff Lake Trail in Evergreen and conserving land for public access on North Floyd Hill, among other projects.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.

A request for proposals RFP has been released to solicit design consultants, with an April 6, 2018 deadline.

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