G-town lands $338,000 grant to complete trail around lake

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By Ian Neligh

Georgetown received a $338,000 grant last week from Great Outdoors Colorado to complete construction of the Bennhoff Lake Trail loop.

The trail, which will encircle Georgetown Lake, is expected to be finished this summer. The town has been trying to complete the trail for years.

The GOCO grant for the lake trail will join $85,000 in funds from the state Department of Local Affairs, and $30,000 each from Clear Creek County and the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District.

Albert Frei & Sons Quarry is donating the gravel for the 2-mile path.

“The major portion of the construction is going to be on the east side, through what has been rough country, to complete the circumnavigation of the lake,” Mayor Matt Skeen said. “I think it will be a really nifty amenity, because a lot of people stop there at the lake. There’s a lot of fishermen, and it is very visible off of I-70, and it will provide an interesting hike all around the lake, which will be kind of fun.”

The trail is named for longtime mayor Tom Bennhoff, who died in 2014.

“Tom Bennhoff was instrumental in getting the concept of the circumnavigation trail going, and we’ve named the trail after him, and I think we (just) might get it done this year,” Skeen said.

The new construction will replace the informal trail on the mountain, or eastern, side of the lake. That portion of the trail, considered the most difficult according to Skeen, will be 3,600 feet long and 6 feet wide.

Two picnic areas also will be constructed.

The trail will feature a pedestrian bridge that crosses the dam. The 102-foot steel bridge will have a deck made of pressure-treated wood. The bridge is also designed to “break away” if a flood occurs. A tether will keep the bridge from washing downstream.

The bridge will be named “Beth’s Dam Bridge” in honor of Beth Luther, executive assistant to the county commissioners. Luther, who also helped in the trail’s planning, said the idea for the name surfaced four years ago when local officials and residents began meeting to discuss the trail project.

“Every time we were in a meeting, I was like, ‘Listen, we’ve got to have a bridge over the dam,’ ” Luther said, adding that it later turned out GOCO wouldn’t supply funds if the trail didn’t go entirely around the lake.

“And I was like, ‘See, I told you guys, we’ve got to have the dam bridge … .’ ”

Luther said that every meeting Bennhoff jokingly threatened to name the bridge “Beth’s Dam Bridge,” and it wasn’t long before the idea stuck.

“This is going to be the most photogenic site in our county because it’s right down the street from one of the busiest visitor centers in the state, and if we put a cool enough bridge up there … I think a lot of people will take pictures there,” Luther said. “No matter which way you turn on that bridge, it is going to be a great shot.”

Town Administrator Tom Hale said the town is also looking to apply for an additional grant from Fishing Is Fun to construct two disabled- and senior-accessible piers on the west side of the lake.