Upper South Canyon trails remain closed due to mud | PostIndependent.com

Upper South Canyon trails remain closed due to mud

A mountain biker makes his way down one of the South Canyon bike trails last spring.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

Biking and hiking trails in the Coal Camp area of upper South Canyon will remain closed through this month, and possibly longer, due to the still-melting snow and muddy conditions.

The lower trails, nearest the city landfill, are open for use at this time, though.

The city of Glenwood Springs, which owns most of the property where there new trail network is located, worked with the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBC) to extend the closure.

RFMBC Executive Director Mike Pritchard said the agreed-to winter closure in the area was set to expire on April 15.

However, after evaluating the trail conditions the weekend prior, the decision was made to move the closure date to April 30. Trail conditions will be evaluated again at that time, and it’s possible the closure date could be moved to mid-May, Pritchard said.

Pritchard said he was up checking cameras that are used to monitor trail activity late last week, and there were some violations of the trail closure. The trail head is clearly marked that the closure remains in effect, and any violators could be identified and ticketed, he said.

The upper trail closure is strictly due to the muddy conditions, Pritchard added, and not connected to a campaign by the South Canyon Coalition to encourage users to stay off the trails until early June due to wildlife concerns.

Though an official wildlife closure is not in place, the coalition says the area could support elk calving during the critical mid- to late-spring period.

“Our town still has many lower level elevations that are ideal for elk calving that support the birthing process,” coalition member Craig Amichaux writes in a guest column that appears in today’s Opinion section. 

“The South Canyon Coalition believes that one of these sensitive areas inside the canyon in located at what is also known as Coal Camp,” he writes. “We are asking the public and the mountain biking community to honor the delicate process and stay out of this area up until June 9 of each calving season.”

According to Pritchard, Colorado Parks and Wildlife was consulted during the trail planning and construction in South Canyon. As a result, a winter closure from Dec. 1 through April 15 was put in place for the Coal Camp area.

“The lower trails were not given the same winter closure,” he said, adding that a wildlife closure for the upper South Canyon area would need to have some “strong science” around it before any formal closures could be considered.

In addition to the extended South Canyon trail mud-season closure, the Bureau of Land Management has also extended the seasonal closure for parts of the Crown area south of Carbondale. That area is also popular with mountain bikers.

As for the higher-elevation trails in the area near Aspen and Snowmass, after the heavy snow this winter, it could be well into June or even early July before all of the snow has melted, Pritchard said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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