Sky Mountain Park reopens |

Sky Mountain Park reopens

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Sky Mountain Park near Snowmass Village reopens Wednesday after a spring that tested the patience of hikers and mountain bikers who were eager to hit the park’s Skyline Ridge Trail.

Not everyone resisted temptation as an early spring left the scenic ridgeline free of snow and mud early. Five individuals received citations for being on the property during its winter closure to protect wildlife, and others certainly violated the closure, as well, said John Armstrong, ranger with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

“It’s been attractive, especially with the early melt-out up there,” Armstrong said. “We realize its gotten a lot of trespass this spring.”

The closure is intended to protect wildlife, particularly elk, and open space land steward Gary Tennenbaum said he observed herds in two separate areas of the property a week ago. Some of the animals might still be lingering even as the park reopens.

“It seems like they’re definitely moving through,” Tennenbaum said, “but still seeing them on the property means they’re not on their calving grounds yet.”

To mark Wednesday’s opening of Skyline Ridge Trail, rangers plan to set up lemonade stands on both approaches – the Radar Road entrance off Owl Creek Road and on Viewline Trail, the connector on the Snowmass Village end. Both routes lead up to the prominent ridge separating the Owl Creek and Brush Creek valleys, traversed by the Skyline Ridge Trail. The lemonade and other treats are a gesture of appreciation to those who respected the closure, Armstrong said.

Much of the ridge is part of the former Droste family property; it is now part of a 2,500-acre collection of open space parcels known as Sky Mountain Park. A winter closure applies to most of the park from Dec. 1 through May 15.

A master plan for the park is nearing adoption. Among its provisions are proposed new trails. Slated to be tackled this year by trail crews is a connection to Skyline Ridge Trail from Cozy Point Ranch (to be dubbed Cozyline Trail) and a connector between the existing Rim Trail, on the opposite side of the Brush Creek Valley, to the paved Brush Creek Trail. Rerouting some sections of the Skyline Ridge Trail is also planned, Tennenbaum said.

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