Linker trail closed for season

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The trail linking Steamboat Lake State Park and Routt National Forest will be closed today.

The first full season that the temporary linker trail was available went "really well," Steamboat Lake State Park manager Ken Brink said. The trail was open for a month and a half last season.

"We didn't have huge numbers of users, but for the people who need the trail, it fills a very important niche," Brink said.

"I think that really helped disperse the recreation, which obviously was key."

The trail is not yet permanent. The upper half of the trail is on National Forest land. The U.S. Forest Service has given the state park temporary permits for the past two years. The U.S. Forest Service officials have said they want to make a management plan for recreation in the North Routt area before permanently approving the trail, and they are looking for funding to do such a plan.

A linker trail has been considered key to alleviating trespassing and parking problems in the area.

In February, the State Land Board purchased the 161-acre parcel across which part of the trail runs for the state park's trust. The land cost $1.2 million and keeps the state park from being landlocked by private property.

The State Park has been monitoring the number of snowmobilers using the linker trail. On a busy day, about two dozen snowmobiles may use the trail, Brink said. On a more typical day, 10 or so snowmobiles may use it. Weekends are much busier than weekdays.

Brink said he has seen snowshoers and cross-country skiers using the groomed trail as well. An endurance cross-country ski race of 90 or 42 kilometers was held for the first time using the trail in March.

There have been no problems or accidents related to the new trail, Brink said.

The state park has county approval for the trail and will ask for U.S. Forest Service approval of the trail on a year-by-year basis until a final decision can be made, Brink said.

The proposed winter trail is about 1.5 miles, starting at the marina parking lot and traveling around the lake on a groomed trail, eventually meeting up with the National Forest.

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