Avon and Eagle mountain bike trails could open this weekend, conditions permitting

A view from the mountain bike trail known as the ‘World’s Greatest Trail’ at West Eagle. The West Eagle and East Eagle trails are expected to open Saturday, conditions permitting.
City of Eagle/Courtesy Photo

Despite recent snow, soft-surface hiking and mountain biking trails in Avon and Eagle are still on track to open this weekend.

This is the latest from Ernest Saeger of the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance, who wants to remind trail users that when a trail is closed until April 15, that means it only opens on April 16.

“We’re still figuring that one out ourselves,” he said of the many volunteers who make up the alliance.

The Office of Land Management Trails in Eagle scheduled to open Saturday includes the East Eagle system (Pool & Ice, Dirt Surfer, Will’s Thrill, Hillbilly, Bellyache Road Gate) and the West Eagle system (World’s Greatest, Abrams Ridge, School House Rocks, etc. .)

Eagle Town trails opening Saturday include Haymaker’s Third Loop, Extra Credit, and all Eagle Ranch trails, including Lov Connection and Adam’s Way.

In Edwards, the west side of the Eagle River Reserve is scheduled to open on Saturday.

And in Avon, the West Avon Preserve trail system is also set to open on Saturday.

But as always, “muddy trails are closed trails,” Saeger said.

Calving season elsewhere

As wildlife moves from lower to higher elevations this time of year, volunteers will be out this weekend to remind users which trails are open and which trails are closed.

These volunteers are part of the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance Wildlife Ambassador Program.

Volunteers who wish to be part of the alliance’s Wildlife Ambassador program must attend a training session each spring and fall; the spring session will be Wednesday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Vail Coffee and Tea in Minturn.

Saeger said volunteers who are unable to attend in person will also have a virtual option, but in-person attendance is encouraged.

“It’s to let people know about spring closures and what we’re seeing on the ground,” Saeger said. “Calving season is the primary reason, and spring migrations are the secondary reason for the closures, so we want to update Ambassadors on what we’re seeing there and updates to our program as it relates to registration. .”

Calving season has already impacted local recreation this spring at Beaver Creek Mountain, where the Ski Patrol closed part of Royal Elk Glade in March due to a moose calf and mother in the area.

Elk calving is a major reason for spring wildlife closures in Eagle County.
Rick Spitzer/Courtesy Photo

The Wildlife Ambassador Program was born out of a desire to create more trails in Eagle County and has since become the area’s best tool for discouraging trail closures, which was the stipulation accompanying the creation of new trails. on Eagle County state land. Before new trails were created, someone had to monitor closure violations on existing trails.

Vail Valley Trails Alliance helped create a volunteer ambassador program that connects with guests and lets them know which trails are closed and which trails are open.

On Saturday, Ambassadors from the just-closed North Trail in Vail will likely direct guests to the just-opened West Avon Preserve, Saeger said.

Over the years, the alliance has kept statistics on how many contacts volunteers have made and how many people were turned away when told of the closure by a trail ambassador. The program also uses existing trail cameras to chart its progress.

In 2017, before the program began, a camera on a closed section of the North Trail captured more than 200 people violating the trail closure, Saeger said.

“In 2019, I think we had around 90 volunteer teams that year. That same place with the same camera went from 217 violations to 148 violations,” Saeger said. “Not great, but down.”

In 2021, with the program up to 330 volunteer teams, the same camera at the same North Trail location only recorded 41 violations, Saeger said.

“We want to get to zero,” Saeger said.

Sent back with a snack

This year, the alliance has planned a first-ever Seasonal Wildlife Closed Awareness Day April 23. As part of Walking Mountain’s Climate Action Week, Trail Ambassadors at closed trailheads will thank those who turn away with snacks, gifts, and hot and cold beverages, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Our goal is to try and get as many volunteers as possible on Saturday the 23rd at these closed trailheads to really have a big impact throughout the day and raise awareness of these closures,” Saeger said. “We try to get all of our ambassadors out for at least an hour that day.”

Saeger said the alliance also targets groups.

“For an organization to go there, they also educate them on the importance of why these trail closures exist, so for us, it’s a win-win situation,” Saeger said.

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