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Photo taken February 2, 2024, courtesy of Rachel Chaffee

To learn more about the actual construction itself, DOWNLOAD this pictorial walk through the foundation build and bridge assembly.

Wildcat Canyon Bridge at Lake Gulch / Inner Canyon

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Under construction as seen from Inner Canyon Trail.  Photo courtesy of Jack Donovan

WILDCAT CANYON BRIDGE COMPLETED FEBRUARY 2024. 

Your Donations Helped!

 

Why Build a Bridge Across Cherry Creek?
The Lake Gulch and Inner Canyon trail junction at Castlewood Canyon State Park has been the subject of lengthy discussions and debate for many years. It's here that school children and hikers must cross the Cherry Creek over a series of boulders in order to complete a picturesque two-mile loop.  This crossing is tricky even in perfect conditions. If the water is high, or after rains when the rocks are wet, the creek crossing becomes even more challenging.  Ice and snow can make the conditions impassable.

Recognizing the importance of a safe and accessible Cherry Creek crossing for all Park visitors, Friends of Castlewood Canyon began working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Engineering staff in February 2020 to plan a new bridge.  

In August 2020, Friends initiated a fundraising campaign, and thanks to everyone’s donations, Friends raised more than $30,000!  Donations came from kids emptying their piggy banks, individuals' $10/$20 contributions, and more, including 20 bridge plank donors (a donation level classification for contributions) who purchased 44 bridge planks. 

In July 2021, CPW rewarded our grass roots success by committing the funding required to construct the bridge. Half of this funding comes directly from CPW; the other half from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  Successful Wildcat Canyon Bridge funding was a major milestone for Friends of Castlewood Canyon!  

Wildcat Canyon Bridge is designed to withstand "100 year" floods, making the bridge a welcome feature of Castlewood Canyon State Park for many years to come.  

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the Wildcat Canyon Bridge! Your cash donations, volunteer time, letters to community organizations and most of all your enthusiasm has carried this project from an idea to a reality!  The Bridge Dedication Celebration will happen in late spring 2024.  Stay tuned for more details.

Friends and Park staff are excited that construction is now complete!   Wildcat Canyon Bridge is now a real asset for Castlewood Canyon State Park to engage, educate, and excite our visitors while keeping them safe and dry.

 

 

How Do You Build a Bridge?

You might think it’s a pretty straightforward process of obtaining funding, completing design, awarding a contract and having the physical structure set in place.  Well, that’s sort of correct.  But to understand why it took four years to go from concept to completion of construction, let’s examine the process in a bit more detail.

To actually have the Wildcat Canyon Bridge (WCB) become a reality, a number of steps evolved. These include the following:


▫    Creating and justifying the idea that a bridge over Cherry Creek is needed.
▫    Taking this idea into the conceptual phase, determining if constructing a bridge in a relatively inaccessible area was even possible.
▫    Investigating option for bridge materials and construction methods, all the while working closely with Park staff.
▫    Coming up with an initial estimate that would include not only materials and labor to build a bridge but also design and permitting costs.
▫    Creating, revising and finalizing a fundraising plan (this is where Friends took on the task).
▫    Implementing the fundraising plan and a schedule to support the plan.
▫    Talking with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to bring them into the conversation and gauge CPW’s potential planning/design involvement and funding resources.
▫    Finalizing funding sources for design and construction.
▫    Engaging CPW’s project management and design staff to initiate the design and take the steps forward to provide bid and construction documents, including working with material suppliers.
▫    CPW’s working with local entities (Douglas County staff for example) to assure that local codes and drainage requirements were met.
▫    Finalizing the construction documents and revising the cost estimate
▫    Securing additional funding due to rising material costs during the Covid pandemic period.
▫    Advertising the project for bidding
▫    Reviewing the project with prospective bidders, reviewing submitted bids and awarding the construction contract.
▫    Working with the selected contractor to review construction procedures and schedules.
▫    Contractor mobilizing to initiate on-site construction.


This is the point where the bridge actually starts to get built.
To learn more about the actual construction itself, just DOWNLOAD this pictorial walk through the foundation build and bridge assembly.

 

 

Our Thanks to Those Who Made This Possible
As you can imagine, to make each of these steps happen required the support of a variety of people and organizations. Thanks go to many individuals and entities who were part of going from concept to reality.  Friends acknowledges and celebrates the support of the following:


▫    Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
▫    CPW Management who approved funding the project
▫    Park Manager
▫    Assistant Park Manager/Bridge Project Manager for the Park
▫    Friends members 
▫    Friends Board members that supported the project
▫    The core Bridge Fundraising Committee of Friends: Chris Glaeser; Jeannette Littlejohn; Travis Brown; Bridget Milnes; Steve L'E
sperance; Liz Bade; Beverly Finamore; Susan Williams; Linda Staehler; and Dale Campbell
▫    Those who contributed to the fund raising
▫    CPW Project Manager
▫    CPW Design Team
▫    Contractor, especially the Contractor’s foreman who managed the on-site work
▫    The park visitors that made on the spot donations and/or provided an encouraging note of support for the project, and
▫    The power of a simple idea to build a bridge

What’s next for the bridge?  Celebrating a success story!  Friends is planning a Bridge Dedication Celebration for late spring 2024.   If you’re interested in attending, please be sure to check back with via this webpage to find out the planned date and to find out more details about the Celebration.

In the meantime, be sure to plan a hike on the Lake Gulch Trail to enjoy the marvel of the Wildcat Canyon Bridge!


 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

How will be Park and its visitors benefit from this bridge?
The Wildcat
Canyon Bridge will improve:


SAFETY by enabling park visitors to safely cross Cherry Creek.
EDU
CATION by helping school groups cross efficiently.   Less time spent crossing equates to more time teaching students about the Park’s unique qualities.
ENVIRONMENT by reducing impacts to the creekside environment, preserving the surrounding habitats for wildlife that live here, protecting the surrounding areas from further damage to fragile plant life, and promoting principles of Leave No Trace.
ACCESSIBILITY by providing a much easier crossing for physically limited visitors.
LEARNING by providing a "stage" to gather a school group or hiking group and showcase the Canyon from the perspective of the bridge. 
CONNECTIVITY by strengthening this key intersection at the heart and soul of the Park.

 

Why build a bridge at this location?
Wildcat Canyon has an important place in the history of Castlewood Canyon. First roamed by various Native peoples, then homesteaders and ranchers, this early name appears on a map dated 1902.


It is a natural place to encourage students of all ages to learn more about the history, the special nature of the environment and habitats, and fragile plant life.


Today more than 200,000 visitors a year visit Castlewood Canyon State Park Wildcat Canyon Bridge will become the meet up point connecting the east and west side of the canyon. Here, families, school groups, ecological observers, hikers, and casual day strollers will be able to cross safely without fear of landing in the creek.  The bridge will also support those with limited mobility to explore more of the Park’s trails and enhance the experiences of all. 

Will completion of the bridge result in the closure of the existing boulder crossing?
No, the existing “stepping stone” crossing will remain open for those who choose to enjoy a bit of a challenge.

What type of bridge was constructed?
In considering a design, various types of bridges and materials were evaluated.  And a specific set of design parameters were defined that considers: flood parameters; impacts on the riparian ecosystem and the surrounding wildlife at the bridge site; and addresses storm water levels, visitor safety, ease of construction and cost efficiency.  Modular designs provided by the chosen approach of using Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) reduced the cost of transporting materials to the construction site and enhanced the ability to assemble the bridge components at a challenging building site.  To learn more about Fiber Reinforced Plastic as a structural building component, click HERE.  A two-minute video about FRP Bridges is available at https://youtu.be/73UOe8HZVDE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Bridge components as delivered from manufacturer.  Photo courtesy of Rachel Chaffee

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North abutment detail.  Photo courtesy of Brian Crawford

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

“The Inner Canyon and Lake Gulch loop is Castlewood Canyon's most hiked route, and the majority of injuries or acute illnesses our visitors experience are along it.  When these events occur on Inner Canyon, one of the challenges has been extricating the patients across the creek to where we can drive them out on an off-road vehicle.  This often requires four to five rescuers carrying the patient through the creek bed where footing can be slippery and uncertain. A bridge would dramatically streamline these rescues, improving safety for patients and rescuers alike as well as expediting access to higher level care.” 

—  Brent Lounsbury, Park Manager

Testimonials
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