Hikers, bikers seek recreation on local trails; options at higher elevation still under snow | SteamboatToday.com

Hikers, bikers seek recreation on local trails; options at higher elevation still under snow

Isaac Weinberg cruises towards the finish of the kids fun run on the Spring Creek Trail as part of the Spring Creek Memorial Trail Run on July 28, 2018.
Leah Vann

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Locals and tourists coming in for the holiday weekend might be eager to explore Steamboat Springs’ most treasured trails.

But the impact of a snowy season and a June snowstorm continues to keep eager hikers and mountain bikers confined to lower elevations.

Emerald Mountain’s trails are open but still recovering from the recent snow and rain. Mountain bikers should proceed with caution, avoiding any muddy spots where they can leave deep ruts.

Fortunately, Steamboat’s Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager Craig Robinson said there is one trail in town that holds up well despite the storms.

“Spring Creek trail holds up a lot better with moisture,” Robinson said. “It’s in great shape. The new directional downhill bike trail is also in good shape.”

The upper portion of the downhill bike trail extends from Dry Lake on Buffalo Pass and ends above Bridge No. 6 on Spring Creek Trail. The bike trail runs parallel to Spring Creek Trail until the end, when it combines with the Spring Creek Trail. According to a June 18 news release from the city, two more sections are still under construction.

Hikers and bikers looking to get out of town don’t have many options. According to U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Director Aaron Voos, Dumont Lake Campground has opened up, but nearby Summit Lake is still under 5 feet of snow.

Areas above 9,000 feet are likely to still be under large amounts of snow. The Forest Service recommends Mad Creek, Red Dirt and Sarvis Creek trails for people looking to get out in the wilderness, but visitors should be cautious.

Staying safe

According to the Forest Service Visitor Information Director Greyson O’Neal, the top of Buff Pass still has 71 inches of snow.

“It’s like encountering a snow wall when you get to that elevation,” O’Neal said. “Last year, the trails were all open at this time. It’s a complete 180.”

There’s no definitive timetable to predict when the trails will dry up. O’Neal said he’s seen levels at higher elevations be 130 inches deep, melt to 110 inches, then gain 17 inches of snow to keep the levels high. Since the summer solstice storm, the mostly sunny weather has helped, keeping snow levels as low as he’s seen them this summer.

O’Neal also cautions hikers seeking adventure where there might be streams, since the water is running high. Driving to trails can also be treacherous, since the roads are still muddy with spotty patches of snow traps.

“We don’t want people getting stuck up there without any help,” O’Neal said. “We advise people use extra caution and pack plenty of water.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lvann_sports.


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