Local trails preparing for spring-time weather | ParkRecord.com

Local trails preparing for spring-time weather

Mountain Trails’ Sturgis warns trail users of conditions

A runner begins his trek on a trail at Round Valley last summer. Mountain Trails Executive Director Charlie Sturgis said much of the Round Valley area has already dried out.

As the seasons transition, mountain bikers and spring-time trail users are chomping at the bit to get back out under the sun after a long winter.

But as much as the eagerness takes over, Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Charlie Sturgis wants to make sure people are aware of potential dangers and lasting effects during this time of year.

"It's really about being smart out there and setting yourself up for success," Sturgis said. "Think about it a little bit, and say, 'Okay, maybe it's not a great day to take my bike to certain trails.'"

There's a number of negative things that can happen due to a cyclist, runner or trail user occupying a trail before it’s in a proper condition for recreation. If the trail is muddy, it's probably not a good idea to use it.

Bikers and users can form ruts, or deep troughs, on the trails. With some days being warm only to turn to colder temperatures at night, the damages can stick around for a while.

"It takes, at least, probably 72 hours for things to dry out," Sturgis said. "A lot of it is getting people to think a little more about what is causing things not to dry out. When we get below freezing temperatures, mud doesn't dry out. Mud freezes and it stays frozen until the sun finally gets to it, which takes longer than during the summer."

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Unlike Salt Lake City, already in summer mode, according to Sturgis, the trails and land can take a little bit longer to dry in Park City. Sturgis does believe the trails are ahead of schedule in terms of being completely dried out, even after dealing with a couple of intermittent snowstorms that have started the process over.

In fact, the mixed snow and rain may have aided the trails in a way.

"[Trail opportunities are] actually coming along faster than in previous years because the rain ate up a lot of the snowpack," Sturgis said. "We're way ahead of where we might be in terms of mud and melt and freeze conditions out there. We're actually probably ahead of the game at the moment."

There's never a hard opening for any of the trails, as it's all weather dependent. But if Sturgis had to estimate, depending on the location of the trail, most should be open and ready to go by June. It's still a very young season in terms of summer activities on the trails, and patience is key.

Sturgis even encourages those who enjoy winter and summer activities to get some last days of snow in while the opportunity is still available.

"People just need to relax a little bit on getting all fired up about the next sport and the next season and just realize we live in a really cool area," Sturgis said.

The excitement of summer, along with the rays of sunshine and warmer weather, is certainly making its way through Park City. Sturgis is confident locals will be careful and aware of the trails conditions, as well as the many other users that may be out and about.

In turn, Sturgis wants to make sure the trails are ready for use when the conditions call for it. With a small staff, the director hopes those who are avid users of Park City's trails can help chip in.

"For us, what we need sometimes is info," Sturgis said. "So, if things are muddy, let us know. Certainly, when it comes to fallen trees or trails that are damaged, there’s all these eyes out there. We're a small staff. Until the trail crew comes in, information about down trees and blown out trails, that’s really helpful. So, if the public feels like there's something out there that needs our attention, we will actually get out there and do some work."