Press Release: Final Segment of Ouray Perimeter Trail is Complete
Ouray’s most popular hiking trail, the Ouray Perimeter Trail, reached a milestone in early October with the opening of the final trail segment connecting the Old Twin Peaks Trail to Oak Street in Ouray.
The trail was built and is maintained by the Ouray Trail Group, an all-volunteer organization that works with the U.S. Forest Service and others to restore and maintain the historic trails of the Ouray region and develop other hiking opportunities. The 6.2 mile Ouray Perimeter Trail encircles Ouray on National Forest, City of Ouray, and Ouray County land, private land easements and even a land parcel bought and owned by Ouray Trail Group in the hope of developing a park or outdoor classroom.
On October 6, representatives from the Ouray Trail Group, U.S. Forest Service, and the City of Ouray officially opened the new trail segment with a ribbon-cutting ceremony along the trail, while taking a few moments to celebrate the completion of what became a 15-year project.
Bob Risch, longtime OTG member and past president, conceived of the trail in 2006. Bob recalled, from his childhood in Ouray, that elk used to trail from the Amphitheater to the valley floor along the base of the cliffs between the Visitor Center and Cascade Falls, giving him the idea for that part of the trail. Bob and the Ouray Trail Group forged collaborations with the U.S.F.S, the City of Ouray, private landowners, and others, persevering through land acquisitions, agreements, fundraising of nearly $200,000, and tireless trail construction work by volunteers to complete the project. The Forest Service also contributed funding, construction assistance, and staff time for permitting and agreements.
“We owe a huge thanks to the Ouray Trail Group for their dedication and commitment to managing trails in the Ouray area,” said Dana Gardunio, the Ouray District Ranger for the US Forest Service. “We are pleased to see another section of this unique trail system in place, providing access to the National Forest and surrounding areas.”
City of Ouray Mayor Greg Nelson echoed appreciation for the Ouray Trail Group’s efforts and noted the economic benefit the Perimeter Trail provides to the City and its motto “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado”. Stated Nelson, “The Ouray Perimeter Trail is a tremendous asset to our community and loved by residents and visitors alike. I appreciate all the years of hard work and dedication by the Ouray Trail Group and their generous donors and volunteers to take this Trail from concept to reality.”
Steve Boyle, president of the Ouray Trail Group, recognized the invaluable contributions of so many OTG members, volunteer workers, and donors over the years. Steve noted that the Perimeter Trail could not have been built, and will not be further improved, without the collaboration of all involved parties. “None of us can work in a vacuum”, he said and mentioned that the stakeholders are looking ahead to Perimeter Trail improvements and planning.
Ouray Trail Group, the Forest Service, and the City of Ouray are working this fall to draft a Perimeter Trail Master Plan to strengthen the partnership and guide management of the trail. The plan will define goals and objectives and identify potential improvements, such as realignments of trail sections off roads, standardizing signage, added features such as benches, overlooks, and interpretive materials, and the need for parking, restrooms, and other facilities. The demand for outdoor recreation around Ouray is growing, and the Ouray Perimeter Trail plays a role in the planned development of area recreational resources. The Master Plan will help stakeholders leverage grants for trail improvements and provide vision and focus to keep the trail concept moving forward.
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