Weekend draws plenty of riders for early trail openings
Steamboat Springs — It’s early, but certainly not too far out of the norm.
On Sunday, parking lots near the Emerald Mountain trail system and those that service the Mad Creek area were abuzz with cyclists and hikers ready to take on quick-drying trails for some spring riding.
In the middle of last week, Routt County Riders announced on its Facebook page that by the weekend, many lower-mountain trails on Emerald would be getting the nod from the city to open. Sure enough, little precipitation in the valley held RCR’s announcement true.
Last season, it took until nearly June for the same trails to be open for recreation and riding after a heavy snowfall 2013-14 winter.
As early as it is this season, however, Routt County Riders President Eric Meyer said drier winters in previous years have also resulted in early trail openings.
“I’d say it’s kind of early,” Meyer said Sunday on his way to the Rotary Trail on the back side of Emerald. “It’s getting increasingly less rare. A couple years ago there was a spring where we were able to do a trail day in April on the Hot Springs. It’s not unprecedented, but it’s definitely on the early side.”
Barring potential inclement weather — the National Weather Service is calling for a chance of thunderstorms and showers for most of the week — Meyer said even more good news for riders should be on the horizon.
The newly built Morning Gloria Trail’s plentiful exposure to sunlight from sunup to sundown means the trail should be dry and also able to be ridden once it gets city approval, which could happen as early as Monday. Morning Gloria is the newest trail on the Emerald system, and first opened for rolling in the middle of last August.
The 4.25-mile singletrack, multi-use trail was designed to be ridden for riders of all levels and services cyclists all the way to the top of Emerald.
“Getting to the top of Emerald will be the first time ever you could do that this early in the season on an open, dry trail from the front side,” Meyer said. “If people want to do big rides right from town, you can go all the way up there (barring city approval).”
Mark Patterson, a 19-year resident of Steamboat Springs, was one of the many who took advantage of Emerald’s dry lower mountain over the weekend.
A summer after tearing his calf muscle and missing out on the Morning Gloria opening, Patterson said he’s looking forward to having some more open terrain to hit in the coming weeks.
“Compared to last year, this is way early,” Patterson said. “Last season, we weren’t riding until later May. (Riding Morning Gloria) will be quite amazing, for sure. I’m absolutely getting out more this week.”
Despite the excitement, Meyer stressed one thing: Respect the trail closure signs posted along Emerald and other areas in the valley.
The most reliable source before heading out is routtcountyriders.org/trail-report, which details daily openings.
“When we checked the closed trails we didn’t see anyone, which was great,” Meyer said. “Last Thursday afternoon they opened stuff, and people were out all over the place. People are watching that website. It’s super helpful people that are respecting the closures and keeping the trails in good shape.”
The 6.28-mile Beall Trail is closed and will remain closed until June 30, Meyer said, unless the Bureau of Land Management approves an earlier opening.
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