Spring trails update: Protect the resource, beware the mud and wet

A handful of trails ready to ride, but many more still need time

By Aimee Eaton

Despite a recent winter weather advisory, it is spring in the valley and many favorite trails are beginning to melt out with a few even supporting fully rideable conditions.

Many more, however, remain wet, muddy or partially covered in snow. These trails should be avoided until conditions allow.

“People should know that what they do now may impact a trail for the entire season, or beyond,” said Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association executive director Dave Ochs. “If you can see your tracks, your footprint, your impact—you probably shouldn’t be there. Even if the trail is 97 percent clear, walking around or riding around a big snow patch leaves a footprint—and a bad image for our sport and recreation in general.”

Human-caused erosion and trail degradation can be harmful to the surrounding environment, and when taken too far can be a source of tension between landowners and managers and the recreation community.

Several trails throughout the valley have experienced temporary closures due to trail braiding and excessive resource impacts. One of the easiest ways to avoid these situations is to stay off wet and muddy trails, said land managers from the Gunnison National Forest.

“If you have to ride wet and not yet thawed trails, please don’t go around—ride right in the middle—stay on the existing alignment,” added Ochs.

In an effort to keep riders and recreators off of trails that aren’t ready for use, CBMBA is regularly updating the trail conditions portion of its website.

As of midweek rideable trails close to town included Tony’s Trail, Upper Loop, Whetstone Vista and Bridges/Upper Decker. Around Crested Butte South, the Caves and Walrod Cutoff were riding, as well as the lower section of Lower Cement Creek Trail.

Up on the mountain, Crested Butte Mountain Resort Bike and Terrain Parks manager Alyosha Paden said riders still must wait for trails.

“The trails are melting but are at a critical transformation stage as they recover from the deep winter snow blanket,” said Paden. “Our trail crew will immediately begin maintenance on them to prep for opening, as the dirt begins to surface. We ask that you please respect the closures and stay off all trails at the resort until we officially open.”

The CBMR bike trails will open for the summer on June 10. At that time emergency services and bike patrol will also be in effect.

While riders are exploring open trails and waiting for the rest of the valley and high country to melt out, CBMBA is asking for anyone with on-the-ground observations of trail conditions, downed trees, wildlife and more to get in touch through the observation page of the CBMBA website.

“We’re on the lookout for everything!” said Ochs. “Our ‘observation’ page is easy to find on our website, along with trail reports and info, trail etiquette, and how to get more involved.”

One more note: Should the weather turn toward snow and rain, use common sense on trails that are now “open.” If tire tracks and footprints are showing up on the trails, it might mean waiting a few more days to ride, or shaving legs, donning the spandex and taking the skinny tires out for a spin.

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