Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Biking is back

BCRD starts plowing the Wood River Trail

Express Staff Writer

Those playing in the Wood River Valley can go skiing in the morning and biking in the afternoon, as the Blaine County Recreation District has started plowing the Wood River Trail.

Eric Rector, the district’s director of trails and operations, said Monday that roughly half the 32-mile-long Wood River Trails system spanning the valley is plowed and open for walking and biking. Rector said the path is plowed from East Fork Road mid-valley to south of Bellevue where the trail meets Gannett Road. 

“It just didn’t want to snow down south this year,” he said. 

The path started to be cleared Thursday, mostly due to dry patches of asphalt that trail maintainers can’t run the groomers over. 

“It’s the same thing we go through every year, when we can’t groom it,” he said, and the district has to make the call to open up the Wood River Trail to other uses.

As of Monday, 16 miles of trail was open to summer uses from East Fork to Bellevue. Rector said the asphalt is clear and dry, for the most part.

“That section is free of all of the snow—except for two puddles, but those are there every year,” he said, adding that the puddles will likely recede shortly.

For now, the path remains open to skate and classic skiers from Hulen Meadows to East Fork, but Rector said that might not be the case for long. 

“The plan is, we’re going to hold on for one more of these forecasts that say we’ll get 3 inches,” he said.

The National Weather Service is predicting a 60 percent chance of snow Wednesday, with an accumulation of 1 to 3 inches in Ketchum. But Rector said he worries it may rain instead on the valley floor. 

“It’s already starting to look like those temperatures are a little high,” he said.

If it does rain, the district will likely plow the remaining 16 miles of path beginning on Thursday or Friday.

Rector said there’s one bright spot in the Recreation District trails system—all the trails up north still have “great” snow cover and skiing, including more than 4 feet of snow at Galena Lodge. He said the “snow line” appears to be at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters north of Ketchum on state Highway 75—north of that, he said, there’s plenty of snow.

“We’re not giving up on skiing yet,” he said with a laugh.

Kate Wutz:

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