Featured Open Space Properties
Knorr Ranch Conservation Easement
Permanently conserving outstanding scenic views, wildlife habitat, and the rich agricultural heritage of the Lower Blue River Basin
The 1,123-acre Knorr Ranch, visible from State Highway 9, is an iconic landscape of the Lower Blue River Basin where rolling sagebrush and irrigated meadows meet the scenic backdrop of the jagged Gore and Williams Fork Ranges. Public/private efforts to conserve this landscape – one of the largest remaining private land inholdings in the County — culminated in 2018 with the Ranch’s permanent conservation.
Upon selling their family ranch, the Knorr Family desired the property to be conserved in perpetuity. Two adjacent landowners initially purchased the Knorr Ranch and immediately granted a conservation easement on the property to Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. 64 potential development rights were retired, no future building rights were retained, and senior water rights were permanently tied to the land. The County concurrently contributed funding towards the conservation easement and purchased a 505-acre parcel within the property subject to the conservation easement. Great Outdoors Colorado additionally awarded the County significant grant funding towards this conservation easement in 2018. Through this unique and creative partnership, the entire 1,123-acre property has been conserved in perpetuity.
Summit County will lease its 505-acre parcel for grazing and hay production, keeping with the rich agricultural heritage of the Lower Blue River Basin. The easement also protects wildlife habitat and migration corridors by tying together past and present land conservation efforts by multiple public land agencies and land trusts. The Knorr Ranch is a critical link in thousands of acres of contiguous public and private protected lands. While the potential for future public access and recreation is yet to be determined, travelers to the region can appreciate the outstanding views made possible by the conservation of Knorr Ranch.
Saints John Townsite Reclaiming an abandoned mine polluting the Snake River, preserving the historic Saints John Townsite and providing trails and trailheads near Montezuma
The acquisition affords Summit County a unique opportunity to protect a large portion of the Snake River Basin backcountry, while also preserving a piece of Summit County history. The Saints John properties are highly valued for their intact historic resources, popularity for public recreation, scenic viewsheds, high-quality wetlands, and important wildlife habitat.
The Saints John townsite was also the site of the Saints John Tailings Reclamation Project, an abandoned-mine cleanup completed by the Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Climax Molybdenum and numerous other partners. The project removed over 23,000 cubic yards of tailings from the stream corridor, preserved the historic mill by diverting clean water away from the site, and created or enhanced more than three acres of wetlands to improve water quality in Saints John Creek.
Open Space and Trails acquired the parcels from the Tolen family for $425,000, using the Summit County Open Space Fund. Breckenridge Ski Resort was a partner in the acquisition, contributing $25,000 toward the purchase to protect lynx habitat.
Preserving Summit County's rural mountain character and agricultural lands in the Lower Blue River Basin
Open Space and Trails purchased the Doig Homestead Open Space parcel, preserving 273 acres of irrigated hay meadows, rolling sage brush, aspen groves and conifer forest north of Silverthorne. The Doig Homestead’s undeveloped, sweeping scenery is visible from more than four miles of Highway 9 and Green Mountain Reservoir. The property furthers Open Space Program goals to protect the rural character and critical wildlife habitat in the lower Blue River basin of norther Summit County.
Laurium Open SpaceProtecting iconic views and providing popular trails and trailheads near Breckenridge
Protecting scenic qualities and recreational opportunities on Mt. Baldy is a high priority for the open space programs of both Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge. The programs jointly purchased two parcels, the 18-acre City Claims and 104-acre Laurium Claims both of which support continued non-motorized recreation in the area. The City Claims overlie Baldy Road and the primary routes used by backcountry skiers to access the front side of Baldy.
The Laurium property, located at the end of County Road 528, provides access to and alternate parking for Mt. Baldy. Mt. Baldy is an iconic part of the visual backdrop to Breckenridge and is popular for summer and winter recreation. "The Laurium Mine embodies much of what we seek in open space acquisitions: trail access, streams and wetlands, valuable wildlife habitat, historical structures and scenic backdrops," says Director of Recreation, Scott Reid, of the Town of Breckenridge. The Laurium Mine, one of the oldest mines in the Breckenridge mining district, began operation in the 1870's and produced gold and silver intermittently into the 1930s. Remains of mining structures, including a stamp mill and cabins, provide glimpses into the property's historical past.
Parkville Open Space
Preserving the historic Parkville cultural site in the Upper Blue River Basin
Parkville is located at the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork of the Swan River, east of Breckenridge. The 44-acre property was acquired to preserve the natural habitat along the Swan River, preserve the historic Parkville cultural site, and to protect several significant recreation routes. The area is very popular with backcountry recreationists and has a predominantly undeveloped, open space character.
The history of Parkville or Park City (as it is sometimes called in historic articles and documents) in Georgia Gulch is vague because its life span as a settlement lasted less than six years. Gold was discovered in 1859, and with all the flourish and hoopla of a boomtown, Parkville came into being. As stated in the Summit County Journal in 1909: “The original county seat was located at Park City, near the mouth of Georgia Gulch, where in the days of rich gold diggings a city of 5,000 people arose – in a day, as it were.” A post office was established in Parkville on December 13, 1861 and discontinued on October 22, 1866.
Much of the buildings are gone, but visitors today can still find evidence of the town and also of the Masonic Cemetery. Headstones are scattered among the undeveloped landscape, providing a historic element to this beautiful part of Summit County. Hiking and exploring are main activities, along with motorized recreation on established routes through Parkville. In the winter, you might see people dog-sledding and cross-country skiing.
Willow Creek Open Space Preserving gorgeous scenic views, lush wetlands, and diverse wildlife habitat while providing trails and trailheads near Silverthorne
The 39-acre Willow Creek Open Space includes the confluence of three forks of Willow Creek and abuts the National Forest lands between the Ruby Ranch and Willow Creek Highlands subdivisions, just north of the Town of Silverthorne. Willow Creek Open Space was acquired by Open Space and Trails to protect scenic views, create a natural buffer between subdivisions, provide access to National Forest lands via trail based recreation, and protect unique wetland resources and wildlife habitat.
The property is traversed by two main trails that meet near the trailhead parking area, on a pullout from Willowbrook Road. The trail that heads northwest provides one of the most direct routes to the Eagles Nest Wilderness. A second trail, known as the Teepee Trail, heads roughly southwest across the largest portion of the property and crosses the south fork of Willow Creek. Staff and volunteers constructed a number of log bridges ensuring safe crossing of the creeks. Both trails provide access to the Gore Range Trail and Mesa Cortina Trail within the Eagles Nest Wilderness and are enjoyed by hikers in the summer and snowshoers and cross-county skiers in the winter.
The lush wetlands, meadows and forested areas of the Willow Creek Open Space are rich in diverse flora and fauna. Deer, elk, beaver and fox call this home, and wildflowers of every description present a kaleidoscope of color from spring through fall.
Bob Craig Open Space
Preserving scenic views from Dillon to Keystone
Summit County residents traveling along Route 6 may appreciate the undeveloped nature of the land on the eastern side of the highway extending from outside of Dillon to Keystone. Summit County Open Space and Trails has helped to protect this viewshed through the acquisition and management of the 97-acre Tenderfoot Meadows Open Space.
Open Space and Trails primarily acquired Tenderfoot Meadows to protect an undeveloped buffer and view corridor between Keystone and the Town of Dillon. The Tenderfoot Meadows Open Space mainly consists of open sage meadows to the north and south of Highway 6 near the Snake River Inlet. These meadows provide valuable wildlife habitat, and due to their south-facing aspect, are especially important as winter range for elk.
The meadows are frequently visited by residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Hiking is permitted on the meadow trails, which can be accessed via the Recpath or a parking area off Highway 6. Open Space and Trails manages this property to maintain and promote the natural appearance of its sage meadows.