Spring trail closures begin Sunday in Snowmass
Burnt Mountain area closes to humans and dogs to protect calving elk
Spring trail closures in the Burnt Mountain area between Snowmass Village and Buttermilk go into effect Sunday to protect elk during calving season.
This year, ropes will supplement the usual signage to mark closures, and access from the ski area will be well marked to prevent skier entry during the extended ski season.
The Tom Blake Trail, Sequel Trail and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity will close Sunday through June 20; Anaerobic Nightmare and surrounding lands will close Sunday through June 27. The Government Trail and Sugarbowl area will close later this spring, from May 15 through June 27.
Snowmass Village trail rangers will monitor trail entrances; violations can result in a fine of as much as $5,000 or six months in jail. Most members of the community abide by the closures and take note of the violations, according to a news release.
“The closure has been in place so long that even neighbors are paying attention,” Snowmass Village trail ranger Tina White said in a prepared statement. “The community is paying attention to people who are going in.”
Wildlife cameras caught 13 people and seven dogs entering the closed areas last year.
“It’s disheartening that people are willing to disrespect the closure and the purpose of the closure,” White said. “There’s so many other places that they could go.”
Human and dog disturbances can be detrimental to elk and their calves, according to Phil Nyland, a wildlife biologist in the U.S. Forest Service’s Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. Nursing elk cows may be quick to flee if startled, potentially abandoning their young calves who aren’t yet able to keep up, Nyland said in the release.
By the time the trails reopen each summer, the calves are able to keep up with their herd as they migrate from the Burnt Mountain area to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Nyland said.
Rim Trail North, the Seven Star Trail and all other trails in Sky Mountain Park reopen May 16 after season-long closures implemented to protect local wildlife seeking winter refuge before the calving season.
The Highline and Lowline trails in Sky Mountain Park and the south side of the Rim Trail remain open year-round. The paved trails that parallel Brush Creek and Owl Creek Road are both clear and open, but dogs are not allowed on the Brush Creek Trail until May 16.
Tom Blake Trail, Sequel Trail and other trails in the vicinity of Elk Camp and Two Creeks: April 25 through June 20
Anaerobic Nightmare Trail: April 25 through June 27
Government Trail No. 1980 and Sugarbowl Trail: May 15 through June 27
Seven Star Trail: December 1 through May 16
Upper North Mesa Equestrian Trail: December 1 through May 16
Sky Mountain Park: December 1 through May 16 (Highline and Lowline trails open year round)
Rim Trail North: December 1 through May 16
Rim Trail South: Open year-round
Brush Creek Trail (paved): Now open for the season; dogs not permitted until May 16
Owl Creek Trail (paved): Now open and cleared for the season
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