DENVER—Today, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $8.5 million in grants to five projects in the final round of funding for the Connect Initiative. The initiative closes critical gaps in trail networks across the state, bringing more close-to-home recreation opportunities to Coloradans.

GOCO’s Connect Initiative has invested more than $28 million over the past four years in closing trail gaps and creating safe access for all Coloradans to the outdoors. More than 80 percent of people in Colorado recreate on trails, and closing gaps and increasing connectivity has long been a top priority for the state’s residents.

The GOCO Board awarded the first round of Connect Initiative funding in October 2016, granting $10 million to six projects. The second round was awarded in September 2017, totaling $8.9 million in grants across five projects. 

This third round of Connect Initiative funding will support some of Colorado’s most urgent trail needs, including two multi-segment portions of the Colorado Front Range trail, the second phase of the Palisade Plunge, the Arkansas River Levee Trail in Pueblo, and the High Plains Trail in Aurora. 

Grant details are as follows:

Colorado Front Range/Poudre River Regional Trail Project, $2,010,000 grant to Larimer County 

Larimer County, in partnership with the City of Fort Collins, the Town of Timnath, and the Town of Windsor, will fill three remaining gaps of the Poudre River Regional Trail, which is part of the larger Colorado Front Range Trail (CFRT). The CFRT, originally proposed in 2003, is a vision to construct a continuous trail network along Front Range communities, ultimately running through Colorado from the Wyoming to New Mexico borders. The Poudre River Regional Trail (PRRT) is a 45-mile segment of the CFRT from Bellevue to Greeley and sees about 300,000 visitors annually. The County and partners will complete 4.7 miles of new trail, filling the last three missing gaps in the PRRT and accommodating an additional 100,000 people each year. 

Colorado Front Range Trail Project in Castle Rock, $2,008,000 grant to Town of Castle Rock

The Town of Castle Rock will complete five miles of the CFRT across three segments, providing connectivity from Denver to southern Douglas County. Segments will add mileage to the existing East Plum Creek and McMurdo Gulch trails, and will provide connections to Cherry Creek State Park and Greenland Ranch. This project will complete a major CFRT milestone of connecting Denver and Colorado Springs and will fill all remaining trail gaps in Castle Rock. 

High Plains Trail/Cherry Creek Regional Trail Connection Project, $2,005,000 grant to Arapahoe County

This grant will help Arapahoe County fund the High Plains Trail’s western expansion and connection with the Cherry Creek Regional Trail, filling a major trail gap in the Denver metro area’s paved trail system. Seven miles of the High Plains Trail currently run along E-470, but the existing trail is relatively isolated from the rest of the metro trail network. The new one-mile connection will divert away from the highway and cross through what will be the Kings Point and Kings Point South housing developments in Aurora along the Arapahoe and Douglas County line. It will connect with Cherry Creek Regional Trail and Centennial Trail at Norton Farms Open Space. 

Palisade Plunge Phase II Construction, $1,238,500 grant to Mesa County

Mesa County will use its Connect Initiative grant for the second and final phase of the Palisade Plunge trail. The completed Plunge trail will be 33.8 miles long, descending 6,000 feet from the top of Grand Mesa to the Colorado River in Palisade. While it is designed with mountain bikers in mind, the trail will be bi-directional and suitable for hiking and other forms of non-motorized recreation. It will also link users to the existing Colorado Riverfront Trail, nearby Powderhorn Mountain Resort, the Lunch Loop Trail Network, bike trails in Fruita, and Colorado National Monument. Construction of the first phase of the trail began earlier this year, and a grand opening is slated for October 2020 after the second phase is complete.

Pueblo Arkansas River Levee Trail Project, $1,238,500 grant to City of Pueblo

In Pueblo, a new 2.4-mile segment of trail will be built over the Arkansas River Levee and connect to the popular Arkansas River Trail and surrounding neighborhoods. The Levee Trail will run along the north side of the Arkansas River, parallel to the Arkansas River Trail along the river’s south bank. The trail will connect users to surrounding residential areas, including Pueblo’s West Side and Grove neighborhoods, creating new recreation access for residents. It will also link to the GOCO-supported Runyon Sports Complex, a popular recreation amenity on Pueblo’s southeastern side.