Warm weather leads to expanded trail openings

Mad Creek and Hot Springs loops included

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Go for a ride

Open trails: Mad Creek Loop, Hot Springs Loop and Lower Bear

Open trails at Howelsen Hill: Molly's, Larry's, Upper MGM, Lane of Pain, The Ridge Trail and Lupine (from the bottom of Larry's intersection). Blackmere Drive also is open to the quarry.

Take note: Changing conditions can affect trail openings. Trail users always should be aware of and respectful of signs and use common sense.

If you go

What: Bike swap

Where: Olympian Hall in Howelsen Lodge

When: 9 a.m. to noon Sunday

Cost: $5 for nonmembers, $5 to sell a bike in the corral

— It's an exciting time of year for local mountain bike riders, according to Robin Craigen, president of Routt County Riders Bicycle Club.

"It's exciting because trails are starting to dry out, and there is new stuff opening every day," Craigen said Friday.

Craigen said several main local trails are open, including the Hot Springs and Mad Creek loops along with Lower Bear, which is connected to the Hot Springs Loop. Several trails on Howelsen Hill, including Molly's, Larry's, Upper MGM, Lane of Pain, The Ridge Trail and Lupine (from the bottom of Larry's intersection) also are open. Riders also can use Blackmere Drive to the top of the quarry.

Routt County Riders Trail Coordinator Gretchen Sehler said trail users should avoid the Bluff Loop, Robbie's Cut and Upper Bluffs until things dry out.

Craigen said riders and other trail users also need to use caution, and be aware that their actions this spring could affect a biking trail for the rest of the summer.

"It's important to let the trails dry out," Craigen said. "Everybody needs to be aware of the signs. If your tires or your feet are leaving an impression, the trail still needs to dry out."

Craigen said tire prints and other impressions on the trails can cause water to collect and lead to erosion later this summer. If the trails are allowed to dry out, then they will rebound much quicker and erosion can be avoided.

Loryn Kasten, public relations manager for Steamboat Ski Area, said she doesn't expect trails on the mountain to open before June 1.

"We are eager to have them here," Kasten said about mountain bikers. "But we want to make sure the trails are ready and things are safe."

She said much of the mountain still is covered in snow and that melting snow has resulted in wet trails.

"We are currently doing some trail work and getting those trails in shape for the summer," Kasten said.

She said the ski area is looking forward to the June 19 opening of the gondola and that she expects many of the trails will be open before that date, depending on the weather.

In other biking news, the Routt County Riders will host their annual bike swap from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday at Howelsen Hill.

Nonmembers can shop for $5, and anyone can pay $5 and fill out the paperwork to sell a bike inside the swap's bike corral. Current members shop for free. All proceeds go to the club for advocacy, education, community programs and trail development.

Craigen said it's a great place to pick up good deals, which range from children's bikes to top-of-the-line road and mountain bikes. It also is a great place to clear out unwanted bikes and equipment.

"We get 60 to 100 bikes every year," Craigen said. "It's also a great place to pick up bike parts, bike accessories and other stuff."

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