Snowmass trail talks: Mud season and how to find the right trail | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass trail talks: Mud season and how to find the right trail

Starr Jamison
Town of Snowmass Village Parks, Recreation and Trails

Sporadic snowstorms this fall have left the trails wet, snowy, muddy or icy.

While mountain bikes are designed to cope with wet, muddy trails, wheels can be hard on the trails. The most difficult fact for people to accept is that Colorado has a longer winter than summer. Mountain biking is not necessarily a year-round sport. There are times when the trails need to be left alone.

Unfortunately, we've noticed a lot of trail damage after these past storms. Once a trail is damaged, it deteriorates even if nobody rides it anymore, with ruts acting like channels that send water down the trail, making it grow worse and worse. The Snowmass Trails crew worked diligently this summer to repair damage to our existing trails system. We ask you respect the local trails and avoid riding when they are muddy.

Here are a few ideas to help you make your decision when recreating in the shoulder season:

Do your homework

With social media and other online resources, researching trail conditions isn't difficult.

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Learn about the trail conditions before you leave the house. Once you've committed, it's harder to turn around on the trail. After a rain or snowstorm, most groups have a lively discussion, chat or thread about trail conditions. If you're thinking about riding or hiking in the Roaring Fork Valley, check out Roaring Fork Trail Conditions on Facebook.

Choose drier, south-facing trails

After a snowstorm, finding south-facing trails, which get more sunlight, also equals drier trails. South-facing terrain doesn't hold as much snow — and north-facing trails can be icy, muddy or nasty for a while — so try to stick to trails with more sunlight.

Get out early

A lot of times, at least during our mud season here in Colorado, everything thaws out during the day. Even when trails are muddy and it's close to freezing, there's so much moisture in the soil that the trails will be more or less frozen throughout the day as temperatures rise. Enjoying the trails earlier in the day when they are frozen means they're not as messy, but rather soft and tacky, can be great.

For more information or to sign up for trail conditions updates or report a trail issue, visit http://www.snowmassrecreation.com/198/Trail-Conditions.

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