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Trails start to open across Steamboat Springs

Work begins on downhill trail at ski area as other spots open

Poncho leads the way for Christine Pietras on Thursday on a trail on Emerald Mountain. A work session is scheduled for Sunday to help open those Emerald trails still closed, while Steamboat Ski Area is set to open eight of its trails today.
Joel Reichenberger

— An endless spring is finally loosening its grip on the hiking and mountain biking trails across Steamboat Springs, a process that stands to take a huge step Friday when Steamboat Ski Area opens the first stages of its trail system to riders and hikers.

Six trails in the ski mountain’s network will be opened starting at 10 a.m. Friday, joining many other trails in town that have just recently dried out enough to be accessed.

The ski area also said Thursday that work has started on portions of the downhill mountain bike park, the first trail of which could be open in fall.

“We have the master plan back, and it has been approved,” ski area spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.

Kasten said the brunt of the work on the first planned downhill trail couldn’t begin until after a 45-day waiting period imposed by the U.S. Forest Service. That window was implemented after the governing body approved the ski area’s trails master plan June 10.

Kasten said Gravity Logic, the Whistler, British Columbia-based company tapped to design Steamboat’s trails, has had representatives in town several times recently and hopes to begin work on the trail, mostly on public ground, within five days of the end of the 45-day period, so likely in the third week of July.

“There’s plenty that can be done up until then,” she said. “Gravity Logic has been in town flagging the trail, and our mountain crews are starting work on the ski-resort-owned land, building a connecting trail, working from the base area up to the Forest Service land so when we get that approval, half the battle’s done.”

More area trails opening

Starting this weekend, there will be plenty in town to keep cyclists busy.

Creekside, Duster, Zig Zag, Valley View, Huffman’s, Yoo Hoo, Sitz and Spur Run are all slated to be available at the mountain and accessible via the gondola.

The remnants of a May landslide have the Thunderhead hiking trail closed and temporarily diverted onto Why Not Road until a detour is created.

Elsewhere in town, trails continue to open.

Much of the trail complex on Emerald Mountain is open and dry, though work continues on several trails, including Blair Witch, Forest Loop and Prayer Flag Field.

Partly to blame for the slow start to the season in those areas is last year’s mountain pine beetle tree mitigation.

“There are no trees there to absorb the water,” Routt County Riders trail coordinator Gretchen Sehler said. “The water is running right down through where the machines ran to cut down the trees.”

A trail workday on Emerald to work to get the rest of the routes open is set for 9 a.m. Sunday. Sehler said about 10 people are needed, and workers can call 970-819-1565 for more information.

City of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department supervisor Craig Robinson said that Spring Creek Trail was open all the way but that areas still were frequently getting doused by the intermittent overflow of the creek and that users should avoid treading through.

“We just ask them to use their best judgment,” he said. “Please turn around at muddy or wet spots.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com


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