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Courtesy photo.

The Salida to Leadville Stage and Rail Trail is becoming a more formal reality.

While out and about, community members may have noticed a number of formal Stage and Railroad signs that have recently been put up along the trail in both Buena Vista and Salida. The Salida to Leadville Stage and Rail Trail in conjunction with its municipal and county partners has obtained formal approval and added signage to two major sections of the 70-mile hiking, driving, and biking trail from Salida to Leadville.

This project is sponsored by the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and has been underway for more than a decade. In 2016 it was recognized as one of Colorado’s 16 top priority regional trails under then-Governor John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful Program.

That it seems as if it has taken years to reach this point, Stage and Rail Trail Project Initiator Alan Robinson says that this project timeframe is not unusual. “It’s very typical that these long-distance trails take years to fully implement. We’ve been doggedly pursuing it and working on the easier pieces of it and those easier pieces are the ones we have just been able to get final approval and the road signs up.”

Robison continued “There are additional pieces [of the project] that are still in the difficult category and we’ll continue to work away with our different partners to see if there are ways in which we can come to some agreement on being able to formally open those as well.”

Courtesy image.

At its southern end, the City of Salida and Chaffee County approved a nine-mile section on country roads, city streets, and city trails from U.S. 50 north through Salida and west to join U.S. 285. The multi-use trail generally follows the historic route of the old stage road from where it crossed the Arkansas River near Cleora, through town, and west along the south side of the river out to Big Bend.

In its midsections, the Town of Buena Vista and Chaffee County approved and signed a 13-mile section from U.S. 285 to U.S. 24 in Johnson Village north through the town and further north along the Arkansas River’s East bank along CR-371 to its junction with U.S. 24. This history-rich section of the trail alternatively follows both the old stage road or the historic route of the Colorado Midland Railroad.

Click here to stay up to date on the progress of the project.