With 1-3 feet of snow in the backcountry, the winter outdoor recreation season has begun.
Tom Rice, recreation planner for the San Juan National Forest, gave an update on projects and trails.
The Dunton Nordic Proposal is set to be decided on by the Dolores Ranger District in January, he said. A 45-day protest period follows, and if there are no issues, then grooming would begin this winter.
The project includes two alternatives for more cross-country skiing and snow bike trails. A new 5-8 mile trail system will either be at Calico Meadows, east of Dunton, or at Black Mesa west of Dunton.
The proposal was introduced by Dunton Hot Springs resort as part of an expanded winter recreation program, Rice said. Dunton guests will be shuttled to the trails by snow coach.
The intermediate trails are open to the general public, who will have to ski in to the trails 3 or 4 miles from the end of the nearest access road.
The snow bike and Nordic trails will be kept separate, and the trail maintenance will be done by Dunton resort.
In Boggy Draw, north of Dolores, the new 12-mile snow biking loop trail system is open. The trail veers south from Forest Road 527 a couple of miles from the Boggy trailhead. The inner loop is 5 miles, and the outer loop in 7 miles.
Southwest Colorado Cycling Association grooms the snow bike trail on a volunteer basis using specialized equipment.
“Conditions are good, they are grooming right now,” Rice said.
The Lizard Head Pass Nordic trails systems are open with regular grooming taking place. The Chicken Creek Nordic trails still need more snow before grooming can start.
SnowmobilingThe snow machine season has gotten off to a good start this winter, Rice said, with good conditions at Barlow Creek, Bolam Pass, and above Transfer Park in the La Plata Mountains.
The San Juan Sledders Snowmobile Club has a special-use permit and contract with the state to groom snowmobile trails in the area. Club organizer Roger Pennington said they are waiting for grooming equipment to be repaired but will be grooming on a regular schedule soon.
The club marks and grooms the following areas:
Beaver Meadows to the top of Baldy Peak; Vallecito Middle Mountain Road to Tuckerville (cross-country ski tracks the first 5 miles); Lemon Reservoir to the end of the road (cross-country ski tracks set in the four loops at Florida and Transfer Park campgrounds); Echo Basin Loop; Missionary Ridge above Lake Henderson and Burnt Timber to the gate.
At Hermosa Creek the San Juan Sledders groom from the Purgatory ski area over Bolam Pass to Barlow Creek Trail Head; Hotel Draw to part way down Scotch Creek and part way out Roaring Fork.
The group also grooms the West Mancos loops, from the parking area to Windy Gap, across to Gold Run, across to Jersey Jim Fire Tower, and out Turkey Creek toward Hay Camp Mesa and back across Fish Creek. (The West Mancos route is approx. 80 miles in the two loops.)
The club has six volunteers who groom the trails. The equipment and fuel is paid for out of snowmobile registration funds.
“We do it because we love for people to have fund in the outdoors,” Pennington said. He said the club that also hosts rides and provide lunch for the clients of Community Connections and Adaptive Sports each year.
The trails are groomed for multiple winter uses, including snowmobilers, dog sledders, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and hikers.