The Trust for Public Land receives $1.3M GOCO grant to expand and manage recreation at Lake San Cristobal

The GOCO board awarded a $1,305,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL) to acquire a 10.3-acre property to expand human-powered recreation opportunities at Lake San Cristobal, the state’s second largest natural lake. Tourism in the area has increased by more than 60% since the pandemic began, which has created the need for additional recreational opportunities and funding to support new access.

This grant is part of GOCO’s ​Resilient Communities program​, which helps grantee partners advance outdoor recreation, stewardship, and land protection work. Funded projects respond to one-time, immediate needs or opportunities that have emerged in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic all within the context of GOCO’s five program values: resource conservation, outdoor stewardship, community vitality, equitable access, and youth connections to the outdoors.

With this funding, TPL will protect a 10.3-acre peninsula property that will become public open space for residents and visitors to Lake San Cristobal. The property, which will be owned by Hinsdale County, will offer recreationalists views of the lake and nearby headwaters and will serve as a key access point for year-round activities.

“We are proud to partner with Hinsdale County to create new, sustainable public access to this one-of-a-kind property on Lake San Cristobal, especially in light of the increased demand on public lands during the ongoing pandemic,” said Jim Petterson, Colorado and southwest region director for TPL. “This new access point will ensure stand-up paddle boarders and other non-motorized users have a safe and scenic place to enjoy this spectacular mountain lake.”

Due to surrounding private lands and the area’s steep topography, the shoreline has remained largely inaccessible. By placing the property into public ownership, the County hopes to alleviate the bottlenecking and congestion that currently occurs on the peninsula and provide access to the rest of the County-owned portions of the land.

“Lake San Cristobal is the very heart of Lake City and a spectacular attraction for those traveling the Alpine Loop and visiting Hinsdale County. Public access to the peninsula and the island will provide a new and unique way of experiencing this natural jewel for generations to come,” said Kristie Borchers, Hinsdale County commissioner.

Due to weather patterns near the southern harbor, recreation amenities including a boat launch and an ADA-accessible fishing pier have been repeatedly damaged or destroyed. Acquisition of the property will allow the County to relocate these features to the northern harbor, which is shielded from ice flows in the winter. The County will work with ecological experts to design appropriate trail and gathering areas to balance passive recreation with natural resource protection. Once acquired, the County plans to offer 

public access to the property’s existing pedestrian bridge, boat dock, boat house, and open space for outdoor learning.

Through this acquisition, the County hopes to provide a high quality recreation experience at Lake San Cristobal while mitigating the tremendous pressure on surrounding public lands during the ongoing pandemic.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $1.1 million in projects in Hinsdale County and conserved more than 100 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported Lake Fork Memorial Park, Hinsdale County Floating Boat Dock project, Lake City Town Park, and previous enhancements to Lake San Cristobal, among other projects.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)​ invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,300 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit​ for more information.

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit​ ​​.