Wilderness Wanderings: Rainbow leads to trail season | SteamboatToday.com

Wilderness Wanderings: Rainbow leads to trail season

The Dome is visible from Three Island Trail. At 11,739 feet, it is one of the highest peaks in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. 
Mary Korch

If on Sunday, you saw the spectacular double rainbow, you probably thought, as I did, that it was a nice ending to a snowy and wet few days. Perhaps it also signals closure to an abnormal spring and points to lots of warm, sunny trail days ahead. 

And there’s more good news for you trail seekers. Trail crews are making significant progress in getting fallen trees cleared for hikers, bikers and other users. 

However, some long trail sections are very muddy, and there is still deep snow at higher elevations. Even two weeks ago, you would have been almost as likely to come across skiers or snowshoers as hikers on Gilpin, Gold Creek Lake and the Causeway trails.

Here is the latest trails update:

  • South Fork Trail was cleared of fallen trees along its 3.75 miles. If you’re not familiar with this hiker/biker/equestrian trail accessed via Burn Ridge trailhead, it’s fairly level and currently offers pretty views of snowy mountains as well as the South Fork of the Elk River. It’s also known for occasional wildlife sightings including elk and moose. 
  • Red Dirt Trail offers much more of a workout. It, too, has been cleared for its entire 5-mile length, including the first four outside the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area where biking is permitted. Be sure to look off to your left on your way down the trail; there are two old, spring-fed water troughs left over from cattle ranching days. 
  • Three Island Lake Trail was partially cleared of trees on Tuesday. One can hike 2.75 miles before reaching solid snow. But the hike is still worth it for awesome views of nearby snow covered peaks such as Sand Mountain and The Dome. 
  • Three Island Spur Trail this week was cleared of 60 fallen trees. At 1.5 miles in length, this out-and-back trail is less than 8,700 feet in elevation and has dried out from winter snowmelt. Look for the small, blue Continental Divide Trail signs — the Spur doubles as the route taken by through hikers.
  • Gold Creek Lake Trail is only cleared for its first 1.5 miles after which you will find high, swift water crossings, snow and fallen trees the final 1.5 miles to the lake. If you’re concerned about walking across the log at the approximate half-way point to the lake, consider an alternative method used by many of our Friends of Wilderness volunteers — straddle the log with your legs and “butt-scoot.” You will find it a lot safer.
  • Gilpin Trail: On Saturday, our volunteers are planning to cut out fallen trees from the lower section of this popular trail. Heavy snow is likely to remain for a few weeks on the upper sections of this trail, making hikes to the lake or the upper end of the Zirkel Circle very difficult if not near impossible.

Other area trails where fallen trees were removed in recent weeks include the lower end of Silver Creek Trail near Stagecoach Reservoir, Fish Creek Falls, Uranium Mine, 1189 and Coulton Creek trails. 

Trailhead directions can be found in the book “Hiking the ‘Boat” or by consulting maps available at the U.S. Forest Service office or your favorite outdoor shop. 

You can also get up-to-date trail and road information by calling the Forest Service in Steamboat Springs at 970-870-2299. or check the Routt County Trail Conditions Group page on Facebook.

Bob Korch is trail crew leader with Friends of Wilderness which assists the U.S. Forest Service in maintaining trails and educating the public about the Mount Zirkel, Sarvis Creek and Flat Tops Wilderness areas. For more information, visit friendsofwilderness.com.

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