Mountain Biking

Mountain bikers urged to stay off Roaring Fork Valley’s muddy, snowy trails – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

All revved up and nowhere to go.

That sums up the status of mountain bikers in the Roaring Fork Valley. A handful of trails opened Thursday in the midvalley, but the wet snowstorm that swept through the area will keep them off limits for the time being.

Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association stressed in its newsletter Thursday that just because a trail is open doesn’t mean it should be ridden. Trails that are muddy, wet or snowy should be spared.

“We need to get the word out to turn around” when conditions warrant, said Mike Pritchard, executive director of the association.

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Butch Peterson, the advocacy group’s outreach coordinator, wrote a thorough summary of the trail status in the group’s latest newsletter. The Bureau of Land Management opened several additional trails off of Prince Creek Road on Thursday. They include North Porcupine, Innie, Outie, Father of Ginormous, Trough, Next Jen and Skull Bucket.

On the north side of the Crown, closer to Emma, the opened trails include Buckhorn, Lower Buckhorn, Buckhorn Traverse and Vasten, though the latter remains snowed in.

The closure gate on the paved Rio Grande Trail at Rock Bottom Ranch opened Thursday to provide access to Lower Buckhorn. Another closure gate on the Rio Grande just west of the Buckhorn trailhead remains closed, so there isn’t access coming from Catherine Bridge.

The Glassier Trail remains closed. Pitkin County Open Space and Trails will open the route May 16, so the popular Buckhorn-Glassier loop isn’t an option right now. The open space program also will open Sky Mountain Park in the upper valley May 16.

Pitkin County employees opened the winter gate on Prince Creek Road on Wednesday, though the gate on Dinkle Lake Road won’t open until May 15, said Scott Mattice, the county’s road and bridge director.

A large parking lot owned by Pitkin County along Prince Creek Road, informally known as the “Bullpen,” meant for mountain bikers and others bound for the Crown, is open, said Brian Pettet, county public works director. A trail leading from the lot to the Crown mountain bike trails that parallels Prince Creek Road also is open, he said.

Farther downvalley, the opened trails include the Elk Traverse on Red Hill outside of Carbondale, Stairway to Heaven and beyond near New Castle, and the Wulfson trails in Glenwood Springs. Most of the South Canyon trails and the Grandstaff trail in Glenwood Springs remain muddy and snowed in, according to the mountain bike association.

The snowstorm covered Aspen-Snowmass area trails under another foot or more of snow, so patience will be needed this spring. Spring skiing is suddenly a very viable alternative.

Pritchard said mountain bike riders must make some adjustments this year. They won’t be able to congregate at trailheads and popular rest stops on the trails because of the threat of spreading the coronavirus. In addition, facemasks will be advisable, at least when encountering other riders.

“Hopefully with more trails open, people will spread out more,” he said. “Everybody needs to be polite and give each other space. There’s going to be a new normal reality.” Staff writer Jason Auslander contributed to this story.