Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lingering snowpack dampens trails

Campgrounds, some pathways open


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A cool, wet spring has left plenty of snow in the high country around the Wood River Valley, leaving many recreationists anxious for trails and campgrounds to open. Photo by Mountain Express

One of the deepest June snowpacks ever recorded in Idaho could dampen the enthusiasm of hikers, bikers and trail riders who still might be deprived of the experience of hiking on their favorite trails.

According to the National Resources Conservation Service, cool spring temperatures this year prevented high elevation snows from melting. Snowpacks statewide range from 120 to 300 percent of average, and are roughly 112 percent in the Big Wood basin.

"In an average year, up to about two-thirds of the snowpack melts during April and May," said Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist with the service. "Not only do we have more snow, there's the potential for a quick runoff period."

As the snow lingers, so do winter trail closures in the north valley and elsewhere. The Sawtooth National Forest reports that Mahoney Creek and Eve's Gulch are still closed due to mud and snow.

Many of the trails in the Greenhorn Gulch area, south of Ketchum, including the Mahoney Lodgepole Connector and Lodgepole Gulch, are expected to remain closed for at least a week due to wet conditions.

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Oregon Gulch, north of Ketchum off of Highway 75, is closed due to what the service called "robust beaver activity," that caused the trail to flood at the junction of Oregon Gulch and Saddle Trail.

But recreationists don't need to despair just yet, as many trails and all of the campgrounds at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area are open. The Forest Service recommends the Harriman Trail, which is open from the SNRA headquarters to Easley Hot Springs. Murdock Creek, just north of the SNRA headquarters building, is open for about one and a half miles without snow.

For more updated information, recreationists have a new resource. The Blaine County Recreation District has combined all trail reports into a beta site where hikers, bikers and trail riders can search for trails based on status, region, length and difficulty.

The site can be accessed at http://trails.bcrd.org, or by clicking the "Summer Trails and Pathways Portal" from the "Summer Trails" sidebar on the district's home page, www.bcrd.org.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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