Free hikes set to explore potential new wilderness
Ryan Summerlin August 14, 2014
EAGLE COUNTY — In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Wilderness Workshop is hosting free, guided hikes into two proposed additions to Holy Cross and Eagles Nest wilderness areas Saturday and Aug. 23.
On Saturday, venture into the No Name area south of Minturn adjacent to the existing Holy Cross Wilderness Area and the Homestake valley. It is easily accessible and an excellent place to experience solitude in a pristine alpine setting. Hiking along Homestake Ridge above the lush subalpine wetlands of Bennett Gulch provides stunning views of the Gore and Sawatch ranges, Holy Cross and the Back Bowls of Vail. This landscape contains habitat for the state-endangered lynx and is part of a very important wildlife migration corridor along the Continental Divide helping connect the Holy Cross Wilderness with the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Meet at 8 a.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Forest Road 705 (just past mile marker 157 on Highway 24 south of the Red Cliff bridge). The group will carpool from there, six miles to the trailhead and begin the hike. Depending on the group capability and desire, expect six miles of hiking over four hours beginning on a jeep road and ascending above treeline, and then following the ridge toward Homestake Mountain. The group will not anticipate summiting Homestake Mountain.
On Aug. 23, hike into the Spraddle Creek proposal area just north of Vail. Hikers will experience one of the few roadless areas left within our valley and learn the value of protecting mid-elevation areas for wildlife habitat, water quality and as a legacy for future generations. This area will protect the fragile headwaters of Spraddle and Middle creeks, which flow into Gore Creek right in Vail Village. The region is known to support populations of endangered Canadian lynx and Rocky Mountain goats. This moderate hike will be a meander through meadows, aspen and fir forests, with frequent stops to appreciate the views of Vail Mountain and marvel at the accessibility of such wildness. Expect about six miles of hiking over about four hours and elevation gain of 1,200 feet. Meet at 8 a.m. at the trailhead parking area just north of the northern roundabout at the main Vail exit.
Participants must pre-register for these hikes at www.wildernessworkshop.org/events-page/summer-hikes. Group size is limited. Bring a lunch, plenty of water, snacks, rain gear and your camera. Call Susie Kincade at 970-328-5472 for more information.