Emerald trails open in Steamboat for season’s swan song | SteamboatToday.com

Emerald trails open in Steamboat for season’s swan song

Only 2 routes still closed as loggers finish work

Stacked logs sit atop Blackmere Drive on Emerald Mountain above downtown Steamboat Springs.
Joel Reichenberger

— A summer of making do has come to an end for area mountain bikers as most of Emerald Mountain’s singletrack trails are open again.

Logging operations on the popular downtown Steamboat Springs mountain are winding down, and all but two of the trails closed for much of summer are open and ready for riders.

Rogue Resources closed many of the trails on the upper slopes of Emerald this summer as it cut through more than 100 acres of lodgepole pine trees destroyed by the mountain pine beetle infestation.

For area riders, that meant sticking to lower trails or simply riding elsewhere.

It was a long process, Rogue Resources spokesman Trent Jones said, as rain and then equipment malfunctions slowed the work. Work again was tempered as company crews raced to finish projects at Steamboat Ski Area ahead of the coming snowfall.

The last bits of work still are being finished, and Abby’s and Stairway to Heaven — two short trails near Emerald’s peak — remain closed as a result. All other trails that were closed for summer, including Quarry Mountain, Root Canal and Forest Loop, are open and have been cleaned of felled trees.

“And they’re riding great,” Routt County Riders trail coordinator Gretchen Sehler said Wednesday.

The process of clearing the trees was complicated, Jones said. Workers cut down trees with chain saws and dragged the logs out, where they were stacked and are still in the process of being trucked off the mountain.

All the remaining debris, meanwhile, was cut down to about 12 inches.

“That really helps decomposition,” Jones said. “If we didn’t do that, it would all still be there, sticking up like that in 10 years.”

The network of affected trails then were cleared of that debris and rebuilt where necessary. All of the trails are on land owned by Lyman Orton, who allows public use of the trails on his property.

Sehler said the riding experience on the trails after so many trees were removed is different, but not worse.

“There’s a completely changed look,” she said. “There weren’t any views before from those trails, but now there are a lot of places were there are views.”

She didn’t hesitate to find the bright side, even after missing most of summer on some of her favorite rides.

“It’s pretty cool, actually,” she said. “And we won’t have any trees falling on us.”

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