Anne U. White Trail
Anne U White Trailhead

Anne U. White Trail

The Anne U. White Trail is closed. The trail will reopen after an expanded parking lot and trailhead are built in the summer of 2019.

Area Remains Closed – Planned to Open in Summer 2019

The Anne U. White Trail was significantly damaged by the September 2013 flood. It is the only trail in the county’s system affected by the disaster that remains closed. Because of safety and access concerns, the property will remain closed until a new parking area can be constructed.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Parks & Open Space hopes to reopen the trail in the summer of 2019. The opportunity for the public to provide input about a parking area expansion opportunity will begin in early November and continue until a hearing before the Boulder County Commissioners on December 13.

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Parking Area Expansion Opportunity

As the popularity of the trail has grown over the years, so has the need for additional parking when the former five-car parking area was often insufficient. During those busy times, overflow parking was occurring on the shoulder of Wagonwheel Gap Road. Congestion on the road created safety concerns for vehicles, pedestrians, and emergency responders, and illegal parking negatively impacted neighbors.

While the 2013 flood resulted in significant devastation, the recovery process is presenting opportunities to find new solutions to the long-standing parking issues.

Flood recovery in the area has been multi-faceted. Road repairs and stream restoration projects are nearly complete. Boulder County has also acquired property on Pinto Drive through the flood buyout program. In addition, staff members are working with another neighbor to potentially acquire property adjacent to the buyout parcels. When combined, these properties—along with the road right-of-way—provide an opportunity to create additional parking capacity and other trailhead amenities.

With funding assistance from Great Outdoors Colorado, Parks & Open Space is currently conducting an engineering analysis to determine a viable footprint within which a new, expanded parking area can be designed and constructed. Physical constraints include the steep, erodible slope immediately adjacent to the potential parking area as well as Fourmile Canyon Creek and its associated floodplain.

Management Plan Amendment

The existing management plan for the trail area is the Fourmile Canyon Creek Park Management Plan. The plan was adopted in 1985 after public opposition to proposed road construction in the canyon and Boulder County acquired sufficient property interests to secure the right to manage and maintain the trail corridor that is present today.

Trail Visitation & Parking Demand

Trail visitation data was analyzed to confirm assumptions about parking demand (see Summary of Parking Demand Analysis). It demonstrates that on pleasant weekends there is consistent demand to accommodate 20 to 30 vehicles. The data corroborates anecdotal information from ranger staff, neighbors, and others who have reported that prior to the flood, 20 to 30 vehicles, and sometimes more, consistently parked along Wagonwheel Gap Road on weekends with varying degrees of compliance with posted No Parking signs.

Initial Analysis & Concept Plan

An engineering analysis was conducted to determine a viable footprint within which a new, expanded parking area could be designed and constructed (see Concept Plan). Preliminary information from the engineering analysis is being used by a multi-disciplinary team of county staff to develop design criteria for the parking area, including a stream restoration component, that would expand parking capacity and also support natural resource values along the riparian corridor.

While the information is still preliminary, it appears that capacity for 15 to 20 vehicles is most feasible. Additional capacity (up to 30 vehicles) will be evaluated once better topographic information is available and the turning radius necessary for emergency vehicles and/or snow plows is better defined.

Restroom

Staff has received input over the years about the desire for a restroom at this location. Staff believes that this would be an appropriate amenity to provide here given the extent of visitation and the proximity of the creek. Almost all of the proposed trailhead area is in the floodplain. This is a permitting constraint that may limit the size and location of such a facility. Since a funding source for the project has not yet been finalized, a permanent restroom facility may be part of a second phase of construction after the parking area is opened.

Overflow Parking Considerations

Staff has been working with the Transportation Department as part of the flood recovery process for this area. This coordination will continue as the trailhead design is developed. Given the constraints in the planning area, it does not appear feasible to accommodate the expected parking demand during the highest periods of visitation at the expanded parking area. We are working with Transportation and parks rangers to identify methods for managing this concern and will have a plan in place prior to reopening the property.

Staff Recommendation

Staff recommends that the Anne U. White Trail Management Plan (a/k/a Fourmile Canyon Creek Park Management Plan) be amended to allow for expansion of the parking area that incorporates the following considerations:

  • Parking capacity may be expanded to accommodate up to 30 vehicles (at least 15 to 20 vehicles seem feasible).
  • Flood resilience should be a significant component of the design (e.g., 100-year flood design, boulder toe wall, etc.).
  • Stream restoration is an important component of the project. Consideration should be given to supporting montane riparian ecosystem functions in the overall design.
  • A permanent restroom facility may be constructed assuming a suitable location can be permitted.
  • The Anne U. White Trail shall be designated for pedestrian use only.
  • A plan for managing parking and other safety and enforcement concerns on Wagonwheel Gap Road during periods of high visitation shall be developed in coordination with the Transportation Department, law enforcement, the local fire district, and neighboring land owners prior to reopening the trail.

Please see the Staff Memo for complete details.

Board of County Commissioners Meeting on Dec. 13

The proposed management plan amendment will go before the Board of County Commissioners for approval. Public comment will be accepted.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m.
Boulder County Courthouse
Commissioners’ Hearing Room
1325 Pearl Street, Boulder

Online Comments

Public comment will also be accepted online throughout the process. All comments will be shared with the Parks & Open Space Advisory Committee and the Board of County Commissioners.

Fill out the comment form.

Next Steps

The final design for the parking area and trailhead will be developed in 2019 based on the scope and scale of the facility that is approved in the management plan amendment.

We appreciate your patience, input, and assistance in the county’s endeavors as the recovery process continues to evolve.

Contact Us

Parks & Open Space

Justin Atherton-Wood
303-678-6273