Sure sign of summer —Sky Mtn Park, Glassier trails open today in Aspen area |

Sure sign of summer —Sky Mtn Park, Glassier trails open today in Aspen area

Flowers line nearly every inch of Upper Buckhorn Trail on the Crown right now.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

The riding has already been great for local mountain bikers and it’s about to get better.

Sky Mountain Park and the Glassier Trail open for the season today. The opening of Sky Mountain Park includes the Seven Star Trail on the west side of Brush Creek Road in addition to Cozyline, Airline, Skyline Ridge, Deadline and Viewline in the main part of the park.

“All trails are open and should be in good shape,” said Gary Tennenbaum, executive director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, which owns and manages the property.

In the midvalley, the opening of the Glassier Trail creates a bunch of new trail linking opportunities for riders. Other trails on the Crown, which Glassier connects to, are already open.

Today’s opening comes with a special head’s up — cattle that are grazing on the Glassier property pasture will be moved onto the Crown on Wednesday, when the permit for a federal grazing allotment kicks in. The cattle will be moved along the path and road in the Glassier property that hikers and bikers also use to access the trailhead. From the trailhead, the cattle drive will stick to an old road that is separate from the single-track bike route.

Tennenbaum’s advice to riders who hit the trail in the morning is to keep their eyes open and, if the cows are on the move, consider climbing Buckhorn and descending Glassier.

“We don’t know exactly what time the cows are moving,” he said.

The sun-drenched Crown dried out even earlier than usual this year due to the low snowpack and dry spring. It’s been getting heavy bike use from the Prince Creek Road side since the upper trails reopened April 15.

Once the Rio Grande paved trail reopened along the Rock Bottom Ranch stretch May 1, riders have been able to connect to the Crown from the Emma/Hooks side via the Buckhorn Trail. One rainy/snowy weekend in late April did wonders for the wildflowers on the Crown. They’re popping, making the area a little slice of verdant heaven.

In the upper valley, the opening of the Hunter Creek Valley-Smuggler Mountain Trail network is dictated by snow amounts rather than seasonal wildlife closures. Tennenbaum said the network is mostly dry, with the exception of the highest, shadiest terrain surrounding Four Corners as well as some snow on shady spots of Tootsie Roll.

“We’re weeks ahead of where we usually are,” he said.

While some trails are reopening today, the U.S. Forest Service is reminding bikers, hikers and equestrians that trails between Two Creeks and West Buttermilk remain closed until June 21 to give elk a break during calving season. The closed trails include Tom Blake, Anaerobic Nightmare, Sequel and Government.

“This annual closure gives cow elk solitude and free range to raise their young,” said Phil Nyland, wildlife biologist. “Disturbance caused by humans and dogs is very stressful to elk giving birth or nursing calves. Disturbance may also lead elk to abandoning their calves.”

The Forest Service works with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Snowmass Village Animal Services and Aspen Skiing Co. to enforce the closures, including video surveillance at gates.

“Even though wildlife don’t appear to be stressed by human encounters, it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking a major hit on their stored nutritional resources,” said Kurtis Tesch, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Those resources, this time of year especially, are a necessity to ensure survival of their newborn young.