Weather causes closures around county
EAGLE COUNTY — The West Avon Preserve opened for biking and hiking on Friday with the caveat that a muddy trail is a closed trail. But trails were far from the only things closing Friday, thanks to a strong storm that brought rain and snow to the valley throughout the day.
After opening in the morning, the West Avon Preserve closed on Friday afternoon.
Hikers and bikers celebrated the opening of the 11.25-mile network of trails in the morning hours, riding the trails before the rain and snow rolled in to town. An evaluation of the trails conducted before the morning opening determined there was no significant damage from snowmelt or erosion throughout the course of the trail system’s winter closure, which began Dec. 15.
Jeff Cheever said his best ride of the day came on Wyse Way, named after local brothers Cody and Casey Wyse, who helped build the trail. Cheever lives in East Vail and rides for Avout Racing out of Denver.
“I’ve been heading down to Eagle to ride the trails there — it will be nice having Avon open now being so much closer,” he said.
He climbed up the Saddleridge trail twice in the morning, but turned around when it started getting rainy.
“You have to call it a day once you see the mud,” he said.
RESPECTING THE RULES
That’s not just responsible trail etiquette, it’s the rules of the trail system on the 478-acre West Avon Preserve, said town planner Matt Pielsticker.
Once the trails became muddy, they became “functionally closed,” Pielsticker said Friday in an email.
In a press release, the town of Avon confirmed that muddy trails are always closed.
“If you encounter mud on any trail, please save and protect the trail by turning around,” the release reads. “Hiking and biking on muddy trails threatens their longevity by increasing erosion leading to the loss of the rolling contours that make the (West Avon Preserve) so much fun. Remember, if you want to ride through this diverse and beautiful mountain environment, please help protect it by staying on the trails and riding only on hard surfaces.”
The conditions that prompted the closure of the West Avon Preserve Friday was accompanied by a two-month seasonal closure of the North Trail system in Vail, and numerous traffic closures of Interstate 70 in both directions at Vail Pass.
Vail Mountain even closed for a couple of hours on Friday when lightning shut the lifts down.
Visiting from Evergreen, skiers John Quigley and Brad Eich received the news that the slopes were closed as they descended the stairs in Vail Village.
Disappointed, Quigley said he feared that may be the case when he heard the thunder.
“We’ll hang out and see if it reopens,” he said as snow flew overhead.
Rainy conditions turned to heavy snowfall, snarling Vail Pass just as Vail Mountain announced it would be reopening the front side of the mountain for the last two hours of the ski day. Trying to get back to Baltimore from Eagle County, Terri Glasser was among the many delayed in Vail as cars lined up on South Frontage Road.
“It’s just part of being in the mountains, I guess,” she said.
A winter storm warning for the Vail area was issued Friday by the National Weather Service and remains in effect through Sunday. Forecasters are predicting more than a foot of snow to blanket the county by Sunday, when Vail Mountain closes for the season.