Forests provides winter recreation | ParkRecord.com

Forests provides winter recreation

Caroline Kingsley, The Park Record

The Heber-Kamas Ranger District encompasses more than 180,000 acres with almost 400 lakes within the Uinta Mountains. Teeming with wildlife and cross-country trails, the district provides year-round activities for people.

"Our forest is a year-round recreational forest, and winter time is one of the best times to be out," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark said. "If you like snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, photographing wildlife, ice fishing, tubing or sledding, we have all those activities during the winter."

The forest service provides numerous cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails, both groomed and ungroomed.

"We have a really great partnership with Utah State Parks and we do groom a lot of our trails. People can check out our website to see which trails are groomed for which activity," Clark said.

But Clark cautioned forest visitors to properly prepare before heading to the backcountry in the wintertime.

"We have a lot of people who go out to the forest and they are unprepared for winter conditions," she said. "The most critical piece of information is to be fully and completely prepared before you go out anywhere and please let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return."

Clark recommends people call the forest service office beforehand to learn if there are any warnings or cautions they need to be aware of.

"The most critical piece of information they can obtain is safety information," he said.

In particular, backcountry skiers and snowshoers need to be aware of avalanche dangers, she added.

"They should be fully prepared when they go out to the forest, which means adequate clothing, making sure your vehicle is in perfect condition," she said. "If you are going to take an ATV or snowmobile, be sure you are familiar with the machine and know how to use it. Have plenty to keep warm in the event you become stuck, and make sure you have a flashlight, food and water."

A recreation pass is required for anyone planning to park within the Mirror Lake fee area. Mirror Lake passes are interchangeable with the American Fork Canyon passes. Three-day passes are $6, seven-day passes are $12 and annual passes are $45.

"They can be purchased either at a forest service office or at entrance information stations," Clark said.

Detailed and up-to-date information about winter activities and warnings can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/uwcnf or by calling 801-466-6411.

Potential winter recreation hazards

Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

  • avalanches
  • changing weather conditions
  • caves and sinkholes
  • overlooks
  • falling trees or limbs
  • wild animals
  • decaying structures and old mines
  • changing roads and trail conditions
  • becoming lost
  • thin ice

    Winter safety tips

  • check the avalanche advisory before heading out at utahavalanchecenter.org or call 888-999-4019.
  • carry and practice with avalanche safety equipment; shovel, probe and beacon if riding in avalanche terrain.
  • only expose one person at a time to avalanche danger.
  • let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Never go out alone.
  • dress for changing weather conditions. Layered clothing allows riders to adjust to changes in temperature.
  • always carry a survival kit.
  • never harass or chase wildlife.
  • watch out for other people: trail groomers, backcountry skiers, horseback riders, snowshoers, and hikers.
  • regularly check your fuel supply. Turn around once you’ve used almost half your vehicle’s fuel.
  • adults should accompany riders from ages 8 to 15 years old at all times.
  • know your machine. Know its fuel capacity and how to perform basic maintenance. Carry extra spark plugs and drive belt.
  • always carry a basic tool kit and survival kit.
  • ride on the right side of the trail, giving the uphill bound machine the right of way.
  • use headlights and taillights in both daylight and darkness.
  • use extra caution when coming around blind corners.
  • never park a snowmobile in the trail, where it might pose a safety hazard.


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