Emerald trails still stuck in mud season | SteamboatToday.com

Emerald trails still stuck in mud season

Lower elevation trails open, but many remain unrideable

Scott Franz

Mountain biker Mike Sullivan makes his way down a lower trail at Howelsen Hill Wednesday afternoon. Due to this spring's wet weather, the biking trails on Emerald Mountain have not opened as early as they have in past years.

— Mother Nature is making it more difficult than usual for volunteers to get Emerald Mountain ready for hikers and bikers this spring.

While most of the mountain is usually ready for prime time by Memorial Day, that won’t be the case this year, as several trails are still far too muddy and wet to be opened.

Dozens of fallen trees also need to be cleared, and trail maintenance crews have encountered snow drifts up to 2 feet deep on some parts of Emerald in recent days.

“I’ve been working for 20 years on this thing, and I haven’t seen anything like this,” local trailbulder Gretchen Sehler said Wednesday as she worked to divert water from the Lupine Trail.

Sehler said annual maintenance efforts on trails are proving a taller order this year due to all the heavy, wet snow the city received in the winter and early spring.

“We had more down trees than I’ve ever seen up here, ever,” Sehler said, adding that 25 fallen trees were removed from the now-open Morning Gloria trail alone. “The water table is really high, so there’s springs bubbling up all over in places I’ve never seen before.”

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Sehler has been working with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and Routt County Riders to get the trails open, adding that this year marks the latest she can remember Emerald’s trails opening.

Early season riding has also been hampered by the washout of Routt County Road 45, which is preventing hikers and bikers from accessing the trailhead on the other side of Emerald.

Despite the challenges, however, there are still places to hike and ride on the mountain.

Crews are also working to get more trails open before the busy weekend.

Open trails include the Bluffs Loop, Lupine, Ricky's Ridge, Gas Line, Mile Run, Morning Gloria, Quarry Mountain and NPR below the Blackmere intersection.

Sehler said she was hopeful MGM and Larry’s trails would open Wednesday or Thursday.

She described the closed Blair Witch trail as a “goo pit.”

Hikers and bikers should follow signs and stay off closed trails, city officials say.

People who disobey trail closures can damage trails, delay their openings and erase the work of volunteers who have spent time diverting water off the trails so they can open more quickly.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

What trails are open?

Check trail conditions on the city’s interactive map by clicking here.