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Exercise caution while hiking, biking at Steamboat Resort

A sign at the Thunderhead Express lot on Steamboat Resort reminds the public that the resort is closed, but they can hike and bike at their own risk.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The secret is starting to get out. Hiking and biking is allowed at Steamboat Resort. 

The trailhead at the base of the Thunderhead Express was full on Memorial Day weekend as mountain bikers and hikers took advantage of new accessible trails, walking by a sign that reminds them the resort remains closed. There are no patrollers and no access to facilities, so anyone who chooses to recreate at Steamboat Resort and the surrounding Routt National Forest, must do so at their own risk. 

All Steamboat Bike Park, downhill and hiking trails below Christie Peak are closed, as they are resort specific trails and not part of the U.S. Forest Service multiuse trail system.

Rather than bike patrol, Routt County Search and Rescue would be called to respond, which would take a lot longer. Jay Bowman, president of Search and Rescue, is fine with taking on that burden, so long as people aren’t being reckless. 

“We’re fine with it. We, like everybody else, want to be outside, being healthy and happy. We all live here because it’s such a cool place to be outside. By all means, we encourage people to do that. It’s a healthy way to keep yourself safe from COVID and in shape and happier. That being said, if you’re up there riding the trails and something does happen, it’s going to be a while before anybody can get to you.”

Biking, specifically downhill, may lead to more injuries, but hiking at altitude can bring about medical issues, or people can simply get lost. Bowman suggests going with a buddy, or at least letting people know where you’ll be going and for how long. He also suggests bringing along a form of communication. 

Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an additional level of concern. Those heading to the mountain need to keep in mind that if they end up getting rescued, not only are they putting themselves and a small group of rescuers at risk, but the ambulance crew, as well as hospital workers. 

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, just realize that if something does happen, that you are putting more people at risk of exposure,” said Bowman. “It’s just something to keep in mind. We encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but right now, maybe just dial it back a hair.”

Courtesy

For now, only the trails on Steamboat Resort are open. Loryn Duke, director of communications at the resort, said that it’s unclear what summer will look like on the mountain, but should come to light in early June as more health orders and restrictions are lifted. 

Steamboat Resort has announced in a news release that the Kids Adventure Camp will not run during summer 2020. 

“Group size limitations, social distancing requirements and limited staff resources make operating the camp too difficult,” said resort Digital Communications Manager Maren Franciosi in an email. “Additionally, the business mitigation plans necessary to operate the camp are more cumbersome than we feel the resort can manage at this time.”

Other major resorts in Colorado have made plans to reopen this summer. Aspen Mountain will open to summer operations June 12, with Snowmass following June 21. When Aspen opens, the Silver Queen Gondola will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with access to sightseeing, disc golf, hiking and nature programs. 

Vail Resorts is planning on starting summer operations on its North American resorts sometime in late June or early July. 

Alterra Mountain Co. shut down all 15 of its North American resorts on March 15 and has yet to announce a plan regarding reopening the resorts.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.


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