White River National Forest opening most routes Friday
Some roads and trails are exceptions in the Aspen area
One of the unofficial signs of summer is when the White River National Forest ends winter travel rules on its roads and trails.
The shift to motorized and summer mountain bike travel season occurs Friday in most areas of the forest. However, U.S. Forest Service officials are urging travelers to use common sense and stay out of the mud, water and snow.
“We have a wide range of elevations with varying conditions,” Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Wednesday. “Some open gates may lead to roads that are wet and muddy. Please be patient and give muddy areas time to dry out and harden so they can be enjoyed all summer long.”
Some of the exceptions to the opening of routes will occur on popular trails and roads in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. On Basalt Mountain, the lower gate will be opened Friday to provide access to the parking lot. The gates on Basalt Mountain Road just past the heavily used parking lot will remain closed until June 1, according to David Boyd, public information officer for the White River National Forest.
The gate on Cattle Creek Road near the parking lot and the gate higher up on Basalt Mountain Road will remain closed until June 21 for motorized uses, including e-bikes. All routes that are typically open to pedal-powered mountain bikes will be open starting Friday.
Several popular trails in the Snowmass Village area remain closed for elk calving season. Tom Blake, Sequel and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity are closed through June 20. The Anaerobic Nightmare Trail is closed through June 27. The Government and Sugarbowl trails are closed through June 27.
With the opening of the roads and trails, White River officials expect visitation to pick up and build into the summer.
“We expect this summer to be as busy or even busier than last summer,” Fitzwilliams said. “People should expect to see high numbers of people when they are on the forest.”
Boyd said people should have backup plans in case they arrive at a trailhead and find it full. It’s also important not to park in a way that boxes in other vehicles.
Off-road and off-trail travel is prohibited for all motorized and mechanized vehicles on the White River National Forest.
All forest visitors are responsible for knowing when and where they can drive or ride. Ranger District offices have the latest site-specific information. Summer motor use maps and mountain bike maps are available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/landmanagement/?cid=stelprdb5328670.
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Former Aspen Skiing Co. executive and Aspen city councilman Derek Johnson has been released from state prison and is currently residing at a halfway house.