Hartmanís trails drying out and open for the summer season
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Respect closures, avoid muddy trails

While Tuesday looked like a midwinter powder day in both Crested Butte and Gunnison, it was just a typical April storm. The reality is that lift-served skiing is over and many of the trails at Hartman Rocks are now open. It is one of the earliest openings ever for Hartman’s but the trails are relatively dry and ready for recreationalists.


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“It opened last Friday and I was out on many of the trails and they are in absolutely great shape. There are some snow spots and this Tuesday’s storm may add a bit to that but overall, it is dry,” said Bureau of Land Management outdoor recreation planner Kristi Murphy. “On Saturday, the parking lot was more than half full. This is about as early as we have ever opened Hartman Rocks.”
Murphy explained that basically, everything north of the powerlines is open for business while everything south of the powerlines will stay closed into the middle of May for sage grouse conservation. Additionally, The Enchanted Forest trail is still snow-covered and will remain closed until further notice.
“There are still a few snow-covered and wet spots along trails and roads, and people recreating on those routes should stay on the trail tread in order to prevent resource damage,” reiterated Murphy. “If it’s muddy on the trail, turn around and go home. Come back in a few days.”
“It will be better in the long run. Too often, especially in the spring, riding through muddy trails will rut them out for the season,” Murphy said.
Trail users who travel off-route can quickly damage drought-stressed vegetation and can create unsightly social trails that can lead to further erosion.
 Additionally, the Gunnison sage-grouse are in a critical life stage for breeding. The BLM asks for the public’s support during the birds’ reproduction cycle by restricting contact, noise and other disturbances to maintain or improve the populations in the Gunnison Basin.
 “We encourage the public to get outside and enjoy Hartman Rocks,” said Derek Chodorowski, newly hired BLM law enforcement officer. “Remember to be safe, stay on designated routes and stay north of the Power Line Road until May 15.”
In a Tuesday email blast, the Gunnison Trails group urged patience. “In the aftermath of this spring storm, trails are going to be very muddy and susceptible to damage for the next few days. Please be patient and give them plenty of time to dry out before using them,” the email states. “This year, since the majority of trail and public land users have been respectful and understanding about seasonal protection of natural resources, our local BLM office opened Hartman Rocks earlier than in the past. Let’s not undermine this confidence that they have shown in us by hammering trails and roads at Hartman Rocks, as well as other public lands, while they are saturated.
 “As always, the northern and shaded aspects will hold snow and mud longer than other areas. If you’re out there and it looks muddy ahead, please consider backtracking. You can still have a great time out there and then you won’t have to see your deep, rutted tracks hardened into the trail next week when you go back out there when it’s bone-dry again,” the trail users advise.
That sort of message is obviously appreciated in the BLM office. “Thank you to our users for honoring spring closures,” said Murphy.