TRINIDAD – Today, Governor Polis, state and local officials celebrated Fishers Peak State Park’s second anniversary by expanding its modest trail system with the completion of 11 miles of new trails for hikers and mountain bikers, quadrupling the acreage accessible in the park.
“As we mark the two-year anniversary of the opening of Fishers Peak, I am excited to celebrate the opening of these 11 miles of new trails. From the beginning, this park has been a collaborative effort within Trinidad and surrounding communities,” said Governor Polis. “I am committed to protecting and preserving our public lands so we can enjoy them for many generations to come and I invite everyone to come visit the amazing new trails at Fishers Peak.”
The price of a Colorado State Park pass will be reduced to $29 beginning in January 2023, down from $80, and provide more resources for the care, infrastructure, and improvement of our state parks and public lands, as a result of action taken by Governor Polis in partnership with the state legislature. President Steve Fenberg, Reps. Kerry Tipper and Perry Will and Senator Donovan sponsored the landmark bipartisan law signed by Gov. Polis creating the Keep Colorado Wild Annual Pass.
Trail-building work began in January and benefited from favorable weather and the tireless work of Singletrack Trails, a Grand Junction-based company hired to construct the trails. CPW built the trails using about $3 million in economic stimulus funds appropriated by the Colorado General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Polis.
Last July, Gov. Polis, CDOT, state and local officials broke ground for the I-25/Exit 11 Interchange Improvement project near the State Park in Trinidad. Gov. Polis announced the new State Park in 2019 and opened the park in 2020.
“It is so exciting to see that within two years of Fishers Peak State Park opening we are holding a ribbon cutting on new trails and recreation opportunities for more Coloradans,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We all know that Fishers Peak will be a crown jewel of our state parks but its success wouldn’t have been possible without the buy-in and support from the Governor, community and local leaders, our dedicated trail builders, and the fantastic work of Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees.”
The new trails – Fishers Peak Trail, Osita Point Trail, Poison Canyon Downhill Trail, Lower and Upper Lone Cub Trails, and Goldenrod Trail – start at the same trailhead as the original three trails on the northwest corner of the park and extend east, ending at Osita Point (Osita is the Spanish name for a juvenile female bear). The new trails stop short of the park’s namesake peak. Three of the new trails form a southern loop back to the trailhead.
Expanding accessibility to public lands is a priority for Governor Polis and under his leadership, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has doubled the amount of publicly accessible trust land enrolled in its Public Access Program from 478,000 acres in 2018 to 973,000 acres in 2021 and through the expansion of our parks.
The new trails feature hiking-only options, a trail dedicated to mountain bike downhill riders only, and multi-use trails that will be shared by both hikers and bikers. Some offer views of Fishers Peak and across the Purgatoire River valley to Trinidad Lakes State Park and beyond. There is no equestrian access at this time.
When Gov. Polis opened the park on Oct. 30, 2020, access was opened to just about 250 acres of the 19,200-acre park. With the new trails, about 1,000 acres are accessible to the public.
The new trails answer a challenge the Governor delivered to CPW after it purchased the former Crazy French Ranch. Gov. Polis urged CPW to open at least a portion of the park while biologists conducted an inventory of flora and fauna on the property and staff launched work on a master plan to guide development.
During its first two years, the park has offered guests a single parking lot with space for about 92 vehicles, two vault toilets, five picnic tables in a scenic spot, a gentle, 3⁄4-mile trail, the beginnings of a beautifully constructed trail, and a challenging, steep 1.5-mile trail along an old ranch road.
The “Sneak Peek” grand opening was designed to allow guests, especially people in the Trinidad area, to get their first look at a small corner of the sprawling park knowing it would take CPW years to fully transform the former private ranch into a modern state park with full amenities such as a Visitor Center, campgrounds, equestrian facilities, road, electricity, and other infrastructure.
“We were proud that we met the governor’s ambitious goal to open the park in 2020 and to now expand our trail offerings even more, ahead of schedule,” said Crystal Dreiling, CPW’s manager of Fishers Peak State Park. “Even though we don’t have a trail to the summit of Fishers Peak just yet, I think guests will really enjoy the variety and quality of the new trails we’ll soon open. These trails are thoughtfully planned and beautifully constructed.”
“Of course, we’re far from finished building trails and construction of additional trails will continue,” Dreiling said. “The trail to the top of Fishers Peak should be open to the public during the fall of 2023 as we work around closures of the area due to nesting Peregrine falcons on the peak.”