A section of the Yampa River Core Trail in Steamboat Springs was blocked by a gate Thursday. Sections of that trail, as well as most of the dirt trails in the region, will be closed for the holiday weekend as high water and snow have slowed trail openings.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

A section of the Yampa River Core Trail in Steamboat Springs was blocked by a gate Thursday. Sections of that trail, as well as most of the dirt trails in the region, will be closed for the holiday weekend as high water and snow have slowed trail openings.

Steamboat trails not ready for hikers, bikers

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Where to go

Wet and cool weather has put a damper on trail access in and around Steamboat Springs. Only a few options are available for those looking to get out for a hike or a ride this weekend.

■ Spring Creek Trail: The popular in-town dirt trail is dry in the short section that goes behind Steamboat Springs High School and up to the ponds on the main trail. It’s closed beyond that, however.

■ Mad Creek Trail: The lower section of Mad Creek Trail is dry and open, but it gives way to mud and snow after Mad Creek Barn.

■ Yampa River Core Trail: Even the all-season cement trail is limited this time of year. The trail is open, but several sections are closed because of high water.

■ Walton Creek Trail: A short spur off the Core Trail, the Walton Creek Trail on the east end of Steamboat Springs is open and clear.

— Gretchen Sehler’s laugh was long, loud and laced with the frustration of a biker stranded in a swamp.

The trails coordinator for Routt County Riders stopped laughing only to deliver a one-liner.

What local bike trails will be open for Memorial Day weekend?

“Fruita’s open,” she quipped.

Spring in Steamboat Springs is not often kind to those eager for summer activities, with snow and rain always seeming to drag on a few weeks longer than is reasonable, and dry trails always seeming to be months away from accessible.

This year, however, has been one of the worst, Sehler said, and because of the continued wet weather that has raked the Routt County and the cool days that have kept the high-altitude snowpack at record levels, trail options are extremely limited this holiday weekend.

“I’ve lived in town for 30 years and I’ve never seen a spring like this,” Sehler said. “I’ve seen wet springs, wet and gooey, but I’ve never seen the snow that’s lasted as long as it’s lasted this year.”

Roads remain the best option for those looking to ride bikes, Sehler said, though a scant few trails may be accessible.

Mad Creek is open and dry enough up to the Mad Creek Barn. The lower portions of the Hot Springs Trail may be clear, and the lower portions of Spring Creek are accessible, as well.

The section of Spring Creek that runs behind Steamboat Springs High School is open, and the main trail is open only as far as the ponds.

“After that there’s water and snow on the trail. It turns to snow pretty quickly,” city of Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department supervisor Craig Robinson said.

The first Town Challenge race was tentatively scheduled to have gone off Wednesday. That was pushed back, however, and now even the next opening day, June 8 at Howelsen Hill, appears optimistic.

“Emerald is still so wet. It is absolutely closed,” Sehler said.

Snow still is present on the top half of Emerald Mountain’s extensive trail network. Riding the trails now, or even when that snow’s gone and the tracks are simply muddy, could do serious damage and spoil them for summer riders.

“There’s so much water coming down from up there,” Sehler said. “We don’t want anyone up riding because we don’t want it ruined.”

Robinson echoed that sentiment, saying even walking in the grass beside a muddy trail could cause headaches.

“That’s creating a new trail,” he said. “We’re looking for people to use their best judgments to stay off of wet trails because using them causes damage and creates more maintenance.

“Hikers, bikers and equestrians alike, we’re asking everyone to stay off.”

The trail network at Marabou is typically open to the public early every biking season, but that too has been pushed back. Marabou’s Scott Bell said the trails there are getting close, but the annual Town Challenge event at Marabou is later this year than it has been in the past, thus the public’s access has been moved back, too. Marabou expects to open its trails for 10 days starting June 13.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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