The colorful bluebirds are flirting with their partners and finding their nests, the sound of hummingbirds are buzzing by, searching for their food, and a few flowers such as Larkspur and the purple Pasqueflowers are popping up through the soil. Signs of spring are here! We are blessed in Grand County with mountain fresh air, beautiful vistas of the Continental Divide, and hardly any pesky bugs to bother us while we are out enjoying the trails. With these blessings, come cooler temperatures and lots of snow that needs to melt off the trails for the summer. We are all anxious to get out and enjoy the trails, but it is important to exercise patience with the late snowmelt!
Grand County has so much to offer with approximately 1,000 miles of trials. Whether it is hiking, biking, running, horseback riding or motorized recreation, there are plenty of trails for everyone to enjoy. It is important to remember there can be hazards on the trails and in the forest, particularly this time of year. El Nino has brought us lots of fresh heavy spring snow. With this being said, there are things to be aware of with the late snow lingering on the ground.
These late spring snows have saturated our soil. The moist soil certainly has its benefits, such as fire mitigation, but it is important to be aware that it also can cause more trees to fall. With our beetle-killed Lodgepole Pine forests, we are aware that trees can and do fall every day! When the ground is saturated and soft, trees roots can be weakened. When this happens, the chance of not only the standing dead trees, but also live trees falling is heightened. As we go out and enjoy our trails, remember to always look up, down, and around. If it is a windy day, it is probably a good idea leave the area and find a trail elsewhere without standing dead trees overhead. You will probably notice that there are many trees across trails that these snows and winds have already brought down across trails. When you come across them, try to not go around the tree. If it is safe, hike your bike, walk over the tree or simply turn around. Remember that going around trees can widen trails and kill other vegetation that struggle to survive our short growing season.
Please remember to always report any down trees to Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA), 970-726-1013 or to the USFS Sulfur Ranger District 970-887-4100.
Many of our trails are still closed throughout the county with the amount of snow still on the ground. The Forest Service is working hard to open gates to roads that are ready to be opened. Please remember that if seasonal gates are closed, it is for our safety and to protect the natural resources. It can be very detrimental to trails if they are not taken care of in the spring, and recreated upon too early. A few trails that are mostly melted and dry include the Fraser River Trail, The Fraser to Granby Trail, The Givelo Trail and the Phases trails in Tabernash. Other areas where snow has melted such as Creekside and Flume in the Fraser experimental forest have areas that are very wet. As the snow melts, we can be left with either standing or running water on the trails. It is important to use caution and patience in these conditions as well. Do not go around the water but rather travel through it or turn around to avoid trail widening, and resource damage. Always feel free to report these wet areas to HTA.
Check out HTA website for further trail conditions and trail events at http://www.headwaterstrails.org or on our Facebook page. Here you find maps of the trails of Grand County, updated trail conditions, and an event calendar with fundraisers and volunteer opportunities. HTA has their first trail volunteer day Saturday, June 4, American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. Sign up by calling HTA or email Erica Bean at firstname.lastname@example.org and reserve your spot for a chance to help build a new trial right in Fraser! Happy spring! Be safe and have fun!
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The sport of ski mountaineering is on the precipice of officially becoming an Olympic sport.