City officials and Routt County Riders trail maintenance organizers are asking that users stay off the trails on Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

City officials and Routt County Riders trail maintenance organizers are asking that users stay off the trails on Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.

Emerald Mountain trails closed until winter hits

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— Mountain biking and hiking season doesn’t really end, not in Steamboat Springs.

But as far as some of the Yampa Valley’s most popular trails are concerned, it’s on hold.

Routt County Riders trail committee member Gretchen Sehler said “closed” signs went up on Emerald Mountain on Friday afternoon, marking the end of the season for users of the popular downtown trail network.

“It’s pretty gooey,” said Sehler, who helps the city in overseeing the trails. “The muddy conditions like that are what make more work for us in the spring.

“It’s closed for all users. Hikers think, ‘Well, we’re not on the trail. We’re walking on the side in the grass. But that’s what widens the trail, and our goal is to keep singletrack single, keep it skinny. That’s what Emerald is all about.”

Open Space and Howelsen Hill Facilities Supervisor Craig Robinson said the trails aren’t officially closed, but in working with Routt County Riders, the city is asking users to stay off the wet trails.

“As far as a formal closure, my office will be looking at that and working through the city,” he said. “Monday, when I’m able to get that approved through the city manager’s office, that’s when they would apply.”

If the riding bug still is biting, there are other options.

Sehler said the Spring Creek, Mad Creek and Lower Bear trails still are rideable options thanks to being built on different types of soil. And about the time Spring Creek and Mad Creek trails close to preserve elk habitat, Emerald could reopen. The closed signs will be removed once the ground is frozen and the snow has started to pile up, when a trip up on a bike doesn’t leave tracks that will have to be buffed out in April and May.

“Once we get enough snow, we’ll remove the signs,” Sehler said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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