Closure area addresses illegal trails on Buffalo Mountain | SteamboatToday.com

Closure area addresses illegal trails on Buffalo Mountain

A map released by the U.S. Forest Service shows areas of Buffalo Mountain that have been closed to cyclists until the Forest Service can rebuild unauthorized trails.

As promised, the U.S. Forest Service has closed some parts of Buffalo Mountain to cycling so rehabilitation work can be done on illegally-built trails.

Natural Resource Specialist Kent Foster said the Soda Mountain Trail is off limits until the Forest Service rebuilds it and makes changes so a unique wetland area is protected.

Foster said they are hoping to do that work toward the end of the summer.

"Hopefully, it will be open next year," Foster said.

The Soda Creek Trail remains open.

Two more illegally built trails — BTR and Grouse — will also remain open this summer.

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Foster said they are confident rehab and rerouting work will occur on those trails this summer.

The Forest Service is working with the city of Steamboat Springs to build 30 miles of new trails on Buffalo Pass.

The trail building is being paid for with lodging tax dollars.

When the Forest Service was going through the approval process for the new trails, it included the need to address illegally built trails.

The Forest Service on Wednesday officially issued the order that restricts cyclists from riding in certain areas like Soda Mountain.

Foster said the goal is to rebuild the illegal trails so they are sustainable.

"And when I say sustainable, I mean low maintenance," Foster said.

He said the Forest Service remains committed to building a variety of trails, including those that are technical.

The closure area is generally north of Soda Creek, above Summit Lake Campground and to the east of the north fork of Fish Creek.

Signs and maps have been placed around the area notifying people of the closure.

The closure order is in effect for five years, but it can be rescinded sooner. It can also be extended after five years if necessary.

Construction of the first, new trail has been completed.

The name of the five-mile trail will be unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon Friday at the trailhead, which is near the Dry Lake parking area.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland