Several changes coming to North Routt recreation |

Several changes coming to North Routt recreation

The U.S. Forest Service has announced several changes to winter recreation in North Routt County. The map shows where those changes are located. l United States Forest Service/courtesy map

Those recreating in North Routt County may notice a series of changes this winter after the U.S. Forest Service completed several projects in the area.

The improvements in the Routt National Forest include a new parking area, new section of plowed road, new section of groomed snowmobile trail and a designated nonmotorized use area.

The area that’s being upgraded is near the community of Columbine, north of Hahns Peak, and along Forest Road 550 and Routt County Road 129.

“The improvements we’ve made this year and our important partnerships with the county and state in North Routt are a direct result of public feedback,” Hahns Peak/Bears Ears District Ranger Michael Woodbridge said in a statement. “Our intent is to decrease impact to private land, improve visitor experience and address historic areas of conflict.”

Changes include:

• A new parking area named Elkhorn South Winter Trailhead. The parking area is recommended for motorized use and trailer parking and is approximately 1 mile northeast up the 550 Road from the historic parking area near Columbine and before Little Red Park. A four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle and chains are recommended when traveling on this section of road.

• The existing Quarry Trailhead will be retained with an emphasis for nonmotorized users and a recommendation for no trailer parking. The lot will be plowed, no fee will be charged and no overnight camping will be allowed.

• Approximately 850 acres of forest south and east of the parking areas has been designated as a suggested nonmotorized dispersed use area. The intent is to improve nonmotorized opportunity and reduce user conflicts with area designations like the ones on Rabbit Ears Pass. Motorized users are asked to stay on the groomed route through this area.

Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said the changes are for both safety and user experience improvements.

“In general, the Forest Service doesn’t like to limit areas that different recreation groups can use or designate things only for one type of use or another,” Voos said Friday. “But that’s sometimes necessary and that’s sometimes what the public asks for.”

A new, groomed snowmobile connector that traverses through the nonmotorized area has also been established. The groomed trail connects Forest Road 490 on the south with the Forest Road 550 on the north. People will no longer have to use the 490 Road and County Road 129 to access the 550 Road.

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