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Friday ó May 7, 2004


On the trail again

Follow rules to avoid damaging muddy trails

Express Staff Writer

With warm spring temperatures melting a light winter snowpack, the Wood River Valleyís trails are opening three to four weeks earlier than in most years.

"Itís going to be a long, hot summer the way things are shaping up," said Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson.

But itís also going to be a longer hiking and biking season than most.

"Things are drying out good fairly quickly," Nelson said. "Weíre trying to open things as quick as we can. By this time next week, we should have a lot of our normal trails open."

Wednesday afternoon, Ketchum resident Brad Wood headed out for his first ride of the season. As he grunted over Three Hills, which connects Adamís Gulch with Hulen Meadows, he said it was painful but good to be back on his bike.

Every Thursday afternoon, the Ketchum Ranger District revises the list of trails that are dry enough for hiking or biking. The list is sent to area bike shops, which post the open trails on Fridays. It has grown in recent weeks, with Corral Creek, Laneís Trail and Three Hills open. More are following in short order.

Although many trails are dry, trail maintenance has not yet begun. In places, trees have fallen across trails. Nelson said people should step over or under the trees rather than ride or hike around them. The same advice applies to snow or mud patches, he said.

"We have spots where people canít or wonít ride through a deep muddy spot and they create a spaghetti of trails. We end up with multiple trails crossing meadows."

Mark Deffe, co-owner of Sun Summit Ski and Cycle in Ketchum, agreed that people should walk through snow patches.

"Donít braid the trail or mountain bikers will get a bad rap," he warned.

Another outcome of riding wet or snowy trails is erosion.

"It creates a track for water to run down and increases the level of maintenance to get the trail in good riding condition," Nelson said. "If itís near a creek, it puts sediment in the creek, and we want to avoid that."

Though the warm, dry weather could be indicative of the ongoing drought that is tightening its grip on the West, it is still nice to get out in the woods a month earlier than usual, Deffe said.

"This is a very early season," he said. "The riding, actually, itís pretty phenomenal. Usually, youíre down in Hailey this time of year, so having trails open up north this time of year is pretty unusual."


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.