Fat-tire snow bikes urged to avoid groomed Nordic ski trails

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By Ann Bond
Special to The SUN

The San Juan National Forest is requesting that fat-tire snow bikers avoid groomed Nordic ski trail systems on public lands.

Local ski clubs groom ski trails under U.S. Forest Service volunteer agreements at the Vallecito Nordic Trail System at Vallecito Reservoir, and West Fork Nordic Trails near Pagosa Springs. The Pagosa Ranger District grooms ski trails in the Coyote Hill area near Pagosa Springs. The agency seeks to protect these carefully groomed trails for cross-country and skate skiing.

Bike use could cause damage to groomed surfaces, increase chances for conflicts and cause safety issues. The Forest Service hopes winter bikers will voluntarily avoid these Nordic ski areas, but if problems develop, formal closures may be necessary.

Fat-tire snow-biking opportunities abound on forest roads closed in winter to vehicle traffic and on hundreds of miles of routes groomed for snowmobile use. Some local bike clubs have expressed interest in entering into volunteer agreements with the Dolores and Columbine Ranger Districts to groom specific snow-bike trails. In the meantime, the Pagosa Ranger District hopes to groom a separate snow-biking loop this winter in the Turkey Springs area, near the Coyote Hill ski trail system. This will be done on a trial basis, dependent on adequate snow conditions and available staffing.

For information on opportunities for fat-tire snow biking on the San Juan National Forest, contact the Ranger District nearest your destination.