Summer around the corner

Jill Beathard | Snowmass Sun
Children scramble up the Elk Camp Climbing Wall on Snowmass ski area on July 17. Use of the wall and other activities at Elk Camp are free with a lift ticket or pass.
Aubree Dallas/Snowmass Sun |

Aspen Mountain might be open for skiing this weekend, but the summer recreation season is under way.

In Snowmass, that starts with biking and hiking. Trails such as the South Rim and Ditch have been in use for some time now, and Sky Mountain Park’s winter closure ended last week.

Snowmass Village is getting some new trails this summer, too: Perhaps the most notable is the Seven Star Trail, which will connect the Rim Trail to the Brush Creek Valley.

The trail is a joint effort of the town of Snowmass Village and Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. The 4-mile singletrack route will also create a 7-mile loop that riders can take by combining it with the existing Rim trailhead near the rodeo lot.

Work on the trail could start in June, weather permitting, and end in August, potentially opening to cyclists this fall. Dogs will be prohibited on the new trail.

On the ski area, the Vapor Trail has been rerouted to include two new flow segments, increasing the intermediate trail’s length from 2.9 miles to 3.3 miles, according to the Aspen Skiing Co. Accessed from the top of the Elk Camp chairlift, the Vapor Trail includes 1,400 feet of vertical descent and bridge and berm features.

Ski area recreation

The Silver Queen Gondola will run May 28-30 so skiers and riders can access terrain on Aspen Mountain. It will continue to operate on weekends now, starting daily summer operation June 18. Daily operations are scheduled to end Sept. 5.

Snowmass’ Elk Camp gondola and chairlift will run daily June 24 through Sept. 5 and then continue weekends through Oct. 2. The Elk Camp area offers hiking and biking trails, a climbing wall, nature programs and disc golf.

In addition to the Vapor Trail improvements, downhill biking fans can look forward to Snowmass Bike Park Nights, extended gondola and chairlift hours every Tuesday.

Those overlap with farm-to-table dinners on Tuesday nights at Elk Camp Restaurant. Dinners include a free gondola ride for an evening of locally sourced food accompanied by a full cash bar, kids’ activities outside and live music.

More improvements on the way for the ski area include the renovation of Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant, which started as soon as Snowmass’ lifts stopped running this ski season.

The Aspen Skiing Co. has other big plans in the pipeline for Snowmass. Its proposal to build such amenities as an alpine coaster, a zipline course and more is currently undergoing an environmental impact review by the White River National Forest. Those improvements could potentially break ground in 2017.


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