On the Trail: A pocket guide | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: A pocket guide

Janet Urquhart

Anyone who owns a copy of “Wild at Heart,” produced in 2005 by longtime local botanist/naturalist Janis Huggins with funding from Snowmass Village, knows the reference book is no superficial guide to the flora and fauna of the upper Roaring Fork Valley.Nor is it a simple hiking guide that first-time visitors are likely to own and stuff in their pockets while they explore the Rim Trail at Snowmass. For one thing, it doesn’t fit in a pocket.Now, Huggins has produced a pocket guide from the comprehensive “Wild at Heart.” With seven ecosystems and more than 40 miles of trails in the area, the guide is a tool to navigate the scenery. The town commissioned Huggins to provide a condensed look at what’s out there.The brochure, available free in Snowmass Village, offers a guide to several local trails: Rim Trail, Government Trail, East Snowmass Creek Trail, Tom Blake Trail, Anaerobic Nightmare, Nature Trail, Ditch Trail and the Maroon-Snowmass Trail (Snowmass Lake Trail). There are directions to the trailheads, information about the ecology of the area and descriptions of three plants, three birds and three mammals one is likely to encounter on each hike.The pocket guide hopefully will lead some users to the far greater detail available in “Wild at Heart,” Huggins said. For others, it offers information that may allow them to better appreciate their surroundings as they hike one of the trails crisscrossing the Snowmass Ski Area and other routes near town.The guide was due out in June, but production delays meant it became available only recently. Next spring, look for it in Aspen, as well as Snowmass.In the meantime, Huggins is ready to tackle her next project – a guide to plants in Aspen and Snowmass, and the surrounding wilderness as a companion piece to “Wild at Heart.” It will include entries that just didn’t fit in the book, which offers information on 423 species. The new guide will have basic identification information for roughly 600 wildflowers, shrubs and trees, according to Huggins, who plans to write the guide this winter but is still in search of a backer to get the independent project published.”This is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’ll be a great little tool,” she said.