To say we had a lot of snow this winter would be an understatement. We also had a cool spring which added more snow and more importantly has held that snow up high. As of today we are over 700% above normal snow pack for this time of year! That is not a misprint!
So how will this affect our riding? First off, most of the lower elevation (under 10,000 feet) trails are open as of today. Most riders are heading to Chris Mountain, Devil Mountain, Jackson Mountain and Blue Creek. These are shorter (20 miles or less) rides but, you can combine 2 trails in the same day and still get a good ride. Use caution on the Blue Creek trail as there is a river crossing about 4 miles in that may be to deep during warm weather for the next few weeks.
Now for the higher elevation trails and routes. First the bad news, Our most popular and difficult trail is the Elwood Pass via East Fork road 667 is currently impassable due to several factors. The lower section of East fork road is currently barricaded off about 5 miles in due to a few sink holes that have developed near the bridge and also one on the ranch. Concerning the upper section above the Quartz Meadow turn off, there are several factors at play. First and foremost is the fact that there is at least 5 feet of snow in some areas above 10,000 feet. Second, is the river crossings. There are 2 crossings of the San Juan river about 3 miles in on the upper section of the 667 above the Quartz Meadow (684) turn off. These crossings by my estimates will be impassable until some time in July unless your driving a bulldozer or tank. This obviously depends on how warm it gets between then and now. However, given the current coolish weather we have been having, it could be a prolonged high water event. Temperatures have been in the low 70’s for the most part and there are no indications of us hitting 80 degrees any time in the next 10 days.
Now for the good news. You can still access the high country via Park Creek road 380 which is located in the Rio Grande National forest on the other side of the pass.. This involves driving over Wolf Creek pass and heading towards South Fork. This is about a 36 mile drive from our location and take about 45 minutes. Park Creek road has a bridge which allows you to park on the other side of the river thus avoiding having to cross Park Creek. This road is maintained throughout the winter since there is a old mining site located at the top of the mountain. This will take you 18 miles to the top via a well maintained forest service road. You will likely not be able to go much further than Summitville, but you will get to see the abandoned mining town from the 1800’s, and be above timber line that is about 11,500 in elevation. If you want to explore the old cabins bring snow shoes, you’ll need them. We also have sled riding gear for rent if you want to get in some early summer sled riding and some great photo opps. On the way down there are several side roads and trails to explore. The turn off at the top (FR 330) that leads to the upper part of Elwood Pass and the town of Platoro still have “feet” of snow on it.