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Forest Service urges trail user to observe all closures during spring mud season

April 15, 2021, 12:23 pm

The arrival of spring brings some important reminders for people recreating on the White River National Forest.

The transition to summer vehicles – mountain bikes, OHVs, four-wheel drive and other wheeled vehicles – doesn’t happen until May 21 in most areas. And areas critical to elk calving are seasonally closed to all uses beginning as early as April 15 until as late as July 1, depending on the area.

“As we start seeing these beautiful spring days, people naturally want to get out and recreate on the forest,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams “We want people to know before they go and understand what is allowed where they are recreating. We have these established dates and wildlife closures to protect roads and trails from damage during mud season and to protect wildlife.”

All forest visitors are responsible for knowing when and where they can hike, drive or ride. Information is available at www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver and from local ranger districts.

The White River National Forest has worked closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to identify the most critical calving areas for elk, which are seasonally closed to all uses to reduce disturbance.

“Elk return to these areas every year because they offer water, forage and the seclusion they need to survive, birth and nurse without being startled or disrupted,” said Natasha Goedert, wildlife and fish program manager. “Repeated disturbance to elk from people and dogs in calving season in these critical areas has led to lowered calf survival rates.”

“We are seeing an increasing number of violations from mountain bikers and off-highway vehicles on roads and trails not yet open, as well as from hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists in areas closed for elk calving,” Fitzwilliams said. “Please help us protect roads, trails and wildlife by being patient – summer will be here soon.”


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Forest Service Fact Sheet

Springtime Recreation on the White River National Forest

In most areas, the transition from winter use to summer use occurs May 21. This means wheeled vehicles — motorized and mechanical such as bikes — aren’t allowed until May 21 in most areas. This helps maintain winter recreation and protect roads and trails from damage during mud season.

Check motor use and bicycle maps by clicking here:

Specific roads and trails in critical elk calving areas are seasonally closed to all uses:

Aspen Sopris Ranger District

  • Tom Blake trail, Sequel trail and other trails in the Elk Camp and Two Creeks vicinity are closed April 25 through June 20.  These trails and the surrounding area open June 21.
  • Anaerobic Nightmare trail is closed April 25 through June 27. This trail and the surrounding area open June 28.
  • Government trail #1980 and Sugarbowl trail are closed May 15 through June 27.  These trails and the surrounding area open June 28.

Suggested alternative trails include the Highline/Lowline trails (open year round); Sky Mountain Park trails (open May 16); North Rim trail (opens May 16); South Rim trail (open year round); Ditch trail (open year round); Sam’s Knob and Alpine Springs trails; West Government trail; and Elk Camp work roads. Visit Pitkinoutside.com for additional info on all of these trails. For other trail suggestions, or more information on this seasonal closure, contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District at 970-963-2266.

Eagle Holy Cross Ranger District

  • Knob Hill #2021: Closed currently – April 15 (opens on April 16)
  • Whiskey Creek #2348: Closed currently –June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Eastern Hillside #2347: Closed currently – June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • North Trail #1896: April 15 – June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Buffehr Creek #2111: April 15 – June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Everkrisp Trail #2122:  Closed November 23 – June 20 (opens June 21)
  • Son of Middle Creek #2136: April 15 – June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Paulie’s Plunge/Stone Creek #2349: May 15 – June 20 (opens on June 21)
  • Two Elk #2005 (from the west entrance at the second bridge to the east end at the Vail Bike Path): May 6 – June 30 (opens on July 1).

Additionally, Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park and the Vail Back Bowls are closed to human entry between May 6 and June 30, opening on July 1. For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails, and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, please visit: https://www.vvmta.org/trail-closures/ or contact the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District, 970 827-5715.

General tips to help protect Colorado’s wildlife and the places you recreate:

  • Stay on designated roads, trails, and areas identified on the motor vehicle use maps.
  • Adhere to site-specific opening dates to protect our wildlife and other natural resources.
  • Be respectful of other visitors.
  • Be respectful of property boundaries and know what uses are allowed if you enter non-Forest Service property.
  • Do not widen trails by going around obstacles and do not create shortcuts.
  • Avoid wet, muddy trails.
  • Cross streams only at designated fords.

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