Vail Valley winter trail closures begin Nov. 23
Closures help protect winter-stressed wildlife
Annual winter closures to protect wildlife begin Nov. 23 on several Eagle County trails passing through critical big-game winter range.
“These winter trail closures are important to help big game survive the winter and have healthy young come spring,” Eagle-Holy Cross District Wildlife Biologist Jennifer Prusse said in a news release. “If these animals are disturbed too often, they may shift to be more active at night or abandon the best winter habitat available. This means they face a greater risk of predation or starvation.”
The following trails are closed to all uses each winter to protect wintering wildlife:
- Everkrisp Trail #2122: Closed Nov. 23-June 20 (opens June 21)
- Whiskey Creek #2348: Closed Nov. 23-June 20 (opens June 21)
- Eastern Hillside #2347: Closed Dec. 1-June 20 (opens June 21)
- Knob Hill Trail #2021: Closed Dec. 15-April 15 (opens April 16)
Prusse added that people may not even see the deer and elk they are affecting.
“Human scent can be detected by a deer or elk from a half-mile away, and they often leave the area before we even realize they were there,” Prusse said. “Even the mere presence of humans and dogs cause deer and elk to flee and expend calories needed to make it through the winter.”
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In recent years, the Eagle-Holy Cross District has seen a significant increase in violations of winter trail closures in Eagle County. Deer and elk use of these important areas fell as human use increased.
To reduce the number of violations this winter, the district will be using a combination of ticketing by law enforcement rangers and education through the Wildlife Ambassador Program in partnership with the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance.
“We understand and support enjoying trails on the White River National Forest, but please help wildlife make it through the winter by respecting the winter closures and using one of the many other open trails on the forest,” Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis said.
For information about other seasonal trail closures, open trails and current trail conditions in the Eagle Valley, go to VVTAA.org/trail-closures/.