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Black Bear Trail set to connect two parks

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By Deborah Swearingen

Construction has begun on a trail that will one day connect Deer Creek Canyon Park and Hildebrand Ranch Park.

Two weeks ago, the Board of County Commissioners approved a $213,892 contract with Arrowhead Trails Inc. to help construct the Black Bear Trail.

Originally constructed in 1994, the trail will be a 7-mile addition to the Jeffco Open Space trail network. More than 20 years ago, Jeffco Open Space obtained an initial easement from White Deer Valley in Littleton to put a portion of the Black Bear Trail through the neighborhood. But through this easement, the trail wasn’t open for multi-use, so Jeffco Open Space chose to acquire a separate easement from Lockheed Martin to build the trail through the company’s property.

“We acquired a second easement to completely circumvent White Deer Valley neighborhood, and that put a pretty long delay on the process,” said Kyle Newmyer, south region coordinator with Jeffco Open Space.

Construction is underway, and the trail will be a combined effort between the Jeffco Open Space trail staff, its trail stewardship team, volunteers and workers from Arrowhead Trails. The goal for completion is the end of 2017, though Newmyer admits this might be tough to pull off.

“It would be fair to say that’s a pretty ambitious timeline,” he said. “We still have some things to work out.”

But once completed, Newmyer foresees the trail as a complete success. It will connect the Plymouth Mountain Trail in Deer Creek Canyon Park and Two Brands Trail in Hildebrand Ranch Park. In total, it will be about a 12-mile trek rated as “most difficult” due to its length and steep grades.

The Black Bear Trail will allow for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use and will have no jumping off points along the way. There will be access to areas that are currently unavailable to the general public.

But, perhaps most exciting of all, with the new connection between Deer Creek Canyon and Hildebrand Ranch, trail-goers will have a chance to traverse three separate Jeffco Open Space parks consecutively.

“Now you can have a really epic trail experience where you’d go from South Valley to Deer Creek to Hildebrand Ranch in a continuous journey,” he said. “You would see many different ecosystems and elevations and several different experiences.”

Some of these experiences include views of Conifer and Gambel Oak forests, a natural crossing at Mill Creek, open meadows, wildflowers, red rock formations and various forms of wildlife, Newmyer added.

Those interested in learning about trail construction volunteer opportunities can e-mail Matt Martinez at mrmartin@jeffco.us.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.