Fall River Trail Extension

Current Phase of Trail Construction Complete

Construction of the current 0.5-mile phase of the Fall River Trail from Sleepy Hollow Court to Placid Lake was completed on August 31, 2023.

Town staff are currently planning the final 0.7-mile segment of the trail. Construction plans and easement/right of way acquisition will be finalized in 2024 with construction anticipated to begin in fall 2025. The Town has been awarded $3.74 million in grant funding for the final segment of the trail; these funds will be available for expenditure after July 1, 2025.

When complete, the Fall River Trail will provide a 4+ mile long, all-weather, non-motorized, multimodal connection from downtown Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Please check this webpage for regular updates. For further information, contact Jeff Bailey, Town Engineer, at jbailey@estes.org or (970) 577-3586.

FRT Construction
Fall River Road cyclist
FRT Map of Segments

About the Project

The Fall River Trail project extends an existing trail from historic downtown Estes Park to the third most-visited national park in our country, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The RMNP boundary is 2 miles from where the current trail ends near Placid Lake on US 34 (Fall River Road).

The images below capture the condition of Fall River Road without a safe lane for cyclists, along with with a map showing the current construction status of the new trail.

In 2015, the Town initiated the design and engineering for the proposed Fall River Trail. The Town was awarded a grant from the Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration Sarbanes Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands for design and engineering. These plans were completed to a 90 percent stage in 2017. This same year, the Town applied for two construction grants and has continued to apply for grants each year since then.

The current trail from downtown travels along west Elkhorn Avenue (formerly US 34 Business Route) and was built as part of Estes Park’s urban renewal program, the Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority (EPURA). EPURA was created in October of 1982 following the Lawn Lake Flood that wreaked havoc in downtown Estes Park. EPURA was disbanded in 2010, before the remainder of Fall River Trail was completed.

Funding the Project

Since spring 2020, the Fall River Trail has been constructed in segments as funds become available. For segments completed through August 2023, the Town was awarded a total of $2,416,932 in grant funds for construction. 

Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District (EVRPD) is a key partner and has contributed $700,000 toward construction of Fall River Trail. Rocky Mountain National Park also constructed a trail segment from the Town boundary to Aspenglen Campground, which was funded by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. This trail has also received support from Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.

For the next and final trail segment, the Town has already acquired/appropriated the following funding:

  • A Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) Grant in the amount of $2,300,000. These are Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds passed through CDOT.
  • A CDOT Multimodal Transportation and Mitigation Options Fund (MMOF) grant in the amount of $1,438,557. These are State funds.
  • A total $1,060,877 in local grant matching funds to meet the specific requirements of each grant.

Because the above grant funds do not currently become available until July 2025, the final trail segment construction is planned from fall 2025 through winter 2026. Based on current estimates, the total acquired funding of $4,799,434 is expected to be adequate to complete the project.

Town funds for trail construction are also supported through the 1A Trails Expansion Fund and Larimer County Open Space Fund.


Project Updates History

2023 Updates

August 2023 

As part of the ongoing construction of the next phase of the Fall River Trail from Sleepy Hollow Court to Homestead Lane, temporary traffic signals were installed on January 31, 2023, to maintain alternating one-way traffic flow through the project site. In order to maximize project efficiency and minimize delays to the motoring public, flaggers will be used during daylight working hours with the temporary signals being operational during overnight and other non-working hours. Working hours are subject to change due to project scheduling and weather conditions. Travelers along Fall River Road should plan for minor delays, although every effort will be made to maintain safe and efficient traffic flow. 

Trail construction is scheduled to coordinate with and take advantage of traffic volume reductions resulting from the reconstruction of the Rocky Mountain National Park Fall River entrance station. Weather conditions have delayed certain aspects of construction, pushing the project completion into July.

January 2023

Construction on the next phase of the Fall River Trail Extension is anticipated to begin on Thursday January 5, 2023, with tree removal activities in the eastbound shoulder. 

After Oct. 10, traffic control will be adjusted to one way southbound via Rockwell Street (reversing travel direction of Rockwell Street) for necessary utility work. During construction of the bridge replacement, the portion of Moraine Avenue from Elkhorn to Rockwell Street will be closed. Construction will continue through spring of 2018 with a completion date of mid-May 2018, weather permitting.

On Sept. 12, 2017, the Town Board approved the construction contract to Structures, Inc. allowing the Moraine Avenue Bridge Replacement project to commence, providing for flood mitigation and downtown resilience. This project is funded through a $2 million Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs through the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

Approval by the Town Board also provides for a temporary pedestrian bridge to be constructed, allowing access to downtown businesses via this corridor. The sidewalk located on the west side of Moraine Avenue between Elkhorn Avenue and Rockwell Street will not be closed before the temporary pedestrian bridge has been installed over Fall River. Additional wayfinding signage will be made available to provide other viable pedestrian routes.

During the project, the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers have been directed to park their vehicles in the pre-approved locations including the area within the temporary construction fence and in the Davis Hill public parking lot at 238 Moraine Avenue rather than on public streets, other public parking lots, private business parking lots, and/or in front of businesses.

2022 Updates

December 2022

The Town of Estes Park’s consultant recently completed 90 percent of the design for a segment of the Fall River Trail funded by CDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Multimodal Options Fund (MMOF) grants. Also available are the design plans for a separate trail segment funded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Colorado the Beautiful (CtB) grant. Both segments are matched with funds from the Town’s 2014 voter-approved one percent sales tax dedicated to trails expansion.

View the TAP & MMOF segment plans

View the CtB segment plans

The TAP and MMOF-funded trail segment is approximately a half-mile in length and continues west along Fall River Road (US 34) from the current trail endpoint west of Sleepy Hollow Court. The shorter, CtB-funded segment continues east along Fish Hatchery Road from the westernmost, constructed trail segment that ends at the Rocky Mountain National Park boundary. Both segments are expected to begin construction in 2022. Neighbors will be contacted with more information prior to construction.

When grant and matching funds are acquired in the future, the Town will construct a final stretch of the trail to connect the 2022 segments.

2021 Updates

July 2021

The contractor has completed all work on this project and the Notice of Final Settlement has been processed. The Town portion of the project was supported by two Colorado Parks and Wildlife Grants (LWCF & RTP), as well as partner funding from the Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District. This project constructed one mile of concrete trail pavement and included two pedestrian bridges over Fall River, a concrete box culvert, and various drainage improvements along Fish Hatchery Road. There are still remaining work to install trail signage which will occur later this year. Public Works looks forward to constructing the next Colorado the Beautiful grant-funded segment of trail. 

2020 Updates

December 2020

Construction activity on the current Fall River Trail project is winding down. The contractor has completed all concrete work on the Town's portion of the project, and they are continuing to work on the Rocky Mountain National Park trail connector segment to Aspenglen Campground. New trees have been planted, and landscape restoration efforts such as seeding and mulching have occurred along the Town portion of trail. The contractor removed two sections of old wooden stave pipe (penstock) which were historically used to supply water to the Fall River Hydroplant. These sections of pipe have been secured and provided to the Museum for display and educational purposes. The construction is expected to be complete by the end of December, with some landscape restoration work carrying over to next Spring.

September 2020

The Fall River Trail project has been steadily progressing. The first of two steel pedestrian bridges was delivered on August 25, 2020. Using a crane, the two-piece bridge was assembled and then set in place over Fall River during a single day. Concrete work on the trail pavement and curb and gutter sections are well under way.

August 2020

Construction on Fall River Trail has been focused in the area between Rocky Mountain National Park and the Harmony Foundation. During excavation near the Fall River Hydroplant, a significant amount of boulders were encountered along the trail alignment which resulted in some initial delays associated with the contractor removing and stockpiling rock. Concrete work has started at the two pedestrian bridge locations, and a box culvert has been installed to the west of the Hydroplant. The contractor will begin constructing sections of the concrete trail in the upcoming weeks.

May 2020

The next phase of the Fall River Trail project is scheduled to begin June 3, 2020. The section under construction follows Fish Hatchery Road from the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) boundary for approximately 1.2 miles to the east of the Fall River crossing near David Drive and Fish Hatchery Road. It will be a 10-foot wide concrete trail with two pedestrian bridge crossings over Fall River, and a segment connecting to Aspenglen Campground. This will be the first multimodal trail to RMNP. Construction will also include the planting of new trees, storm drainage improvements, utility relocations and retaining walls. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of October.

A nesting bird survey is expected to begin June 3 and tree removals and excavation scheduled to begin the week of June 8. Trees that must be removed have been flagged in the field with colored ribbon. The early earthwork will focus on the area between Fish Hatchery Road the park boundary. The contractor will begin at the park boundary ans work east. Traffic control will primarily be limited to short sections of single lane closures with full road closures and detours on specified days. Residents and businesses impacted by construction will be notified in advance of the work schedule and anticipated traffic impacts.

April 2020

Construction is scheduled to start this spring on a new section of the Fall River Trail and will continue into the fall of 2020. This construction section is on Fish Hatchery Road from the Rocky Mountain National Park boundary and east for approximately 1.2 miles. This section will be a 10-foot wide concrete trail with two pedestrian bridge crossings over Fall River. Construction includes tree removal, planting new trees, storm drainage improvements, utilities relocation, and retaining walls. Traffic control will primarily be limited to short sections of single lane closures with full road closures and detours on specified days. Residents and businesses impacted by construction will be notified of the work schedule and anticipated traffic.

When complete, this multimodal trail will be the first to connect downtown Estes Park with Rocky Mountain National Park.

February 2020

Construction bids for Fall River Trail were due February 13, 2020. A construction contract with Jag’s Enterprises, Inc. will be presented to the Town Board of Trustees on March 10, 2020. Construction is expected to begin this spring. Work may continue into the fall depending on how quickly construction can be conducted while Aspenglen Campground (located in Rocky Mountain National Park) is closed, to avoid disrupting campers. 

The construction work will be along Fish Hatchery Road. A traffic control plan will be in place as there will be intermittent and brief road closures during certain work such as installing pedestrian bridges.

January 2020

The Town is currently advertising for construction bids for approximately a mile of the 2.5 mile Fall River Trail Extension project. Bids will be opened on February 13, 2020 and anticipate construction starting in the Spring with completion in the Fall of 2020.

The stretch of Fall River Trail that is out for bid will utilize grant funding from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District (EVRPD) and Town funds for trail construction come from the 1A Trails Expansion Fund and Larimer County Open Space fund.  This project will also construct a trail segment into Rocky Mountain National Park at Aspenglen Campground, which is funded through the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. 

For this project, the selected contractor will construct a colored concrete trail, as well as 2 pedestrian bridges and 3 retaining walls, along Fish Hatchery Road past the Historic,Stanley Hydroplant and into Aspenglen campground. The Town continues to seek funding to construct the remainder of trail along Fall River Road, from the current endpoint near Sleepy Hollow Court.


2019 Updates

May 2019

On March 28 the Town hosted an open house for the Fall River Trail project. Thirty-five people attended this event. The meeting started with a brief presentation by Project Manager Ryan Barr who provided a project overview and status. It then opened to questions, followed by individual discussions on trail sections with enlarged maps displayed. The participants were interested in the anticipated timing for construction and trail completion. Some questions were specific to property impact. The Town and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) staff were available to answer questions from residents.

In attendance were four representatives from RMNP including Cheri Yost, Planner, Marina Connors, Engineer, Ian Brighton, Facility Manager, and Doug Parker, Trails Crew Leader. The grant writer for the Town, Sarah Pita, was also present and the Town was represented by Public Works Director Greg Muhonen and Engineering Manager David Hook.

March 2019

The Town of Estes Park will host an open house on the Fall River Trail Extension project Thursday, March 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, 1509 Fish Hatchery Rd. The meeting will include an overview presentation at 4:15 p.m. followed by breakout sessions for the various segments of the trail, which are in various stages of planning and pre-construction. Residents, property owners and businesses along Fall River and Fish Hatchery Road, and anyone interested in receiving information on the status of this project is encouraged to attend. The 4:15 p.m. presentation will cover construction grant awards, schedule of upcoming construction for at least one segment of the trail, design updates, and proposed long-range schedule to complete the project.

Trail design is complete with the exception of a few specific alternative alignment areas, and the Town has made significant efforts to identify funding sources for construction. Partners helping to complete this project include the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, Rocky Mountain National Park, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the business community, outdoor recreation groups, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and many others.

The Town of Estes Park intends to construct a ten-foot wide 2.5-mile concrete extension that will connect the existing trail that ends west of Sleepy Hollow Court along Fall River and Fish Hatchery Roads to Rocky Mountain National Park at the Aspenglen Campground. This would be the first multimodal trail that connects downtown Estes Park with Rocky Mountain National Park.