Mountain bike season starting to roll in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Mountain bike season starting to roll in Steamboat

A few trails are beginning to open around Routt County.

— The storage wax may only just be set on the skis, but mountain biking season is already inbound for those Steamboat Springs riders who didn't make a Closing Day run for the desert.

Popular riding areas like Emerald Mountain and Spring Creek Trail won't fully open until later into spring, but some sections are already available to riders.

"This is the earliest I can ever remember being able to ride," said Gretchen Sehler, a trail steward for the Emerald Mountain network.

She said she first rode Molly's trail on the front side of Emerald the week before closing day at Steamboat Ski Area, a first for her.

She said MGM was clear last week across to Orton Meadow and to Molly's.

Other trails in the region are drying out quickly, as well. The winter elk closures on the Spring Creek and Mad Creek trails ended April 15, and both trails are dry on their lower slopes.

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"Spring Creek is open to a point," said Craig Robinson, Parks, Open Space and Trails manager for the city of Steamboat Springs. "Eventually, you'll hit a snow line, and we recommend users turn around at that point."

Ridge Trail and Rotary Trail, on the backside of Emerald Mountain and accessible on Routt County Road 45, are also clear and dry but vulnerable to changes in weather.

Riding this early in the season, turning around is common advice.

Even if the trails are free of the winter snow melt closure, they're still subject to regular weather patterns. A passing snow or rain storm can still transform a trail that was dry yesterday into a muddy mess that, if assaulted by overly eager riders, can require serious repair.

"Please stay off closed trails," Sehler said. "If you run into a patch of mud, there will be more uphill of that, so turn around instead of ruining the trails."

As usual, Sehler and her husband, Marc Sehler, have a big summer of bike trail construction planned. Top on the to-do list is tackling a re-route low on the Orton Meadow Trail to, in part, accommodate high school mountain bike team races. Other priority projects include reconstruction of Abby's and Stairway to Heaven trails high on Emerald after logging work and lots of work on Buffalo Pass, where 5.5 miles of multi-directional trails are done and at least 7 miles of trail building remains.

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

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