A number of Pitkin County open spaces will close for the winter season on Dec. 1, including Glassier Open Space and much of Sky Mountain Park. In addition, a number of trails at Sky Mountain Park will close Nov. 22-26 for a limited elk hunt during Colorado’s fourth rifle season.
Please obey closure signs while the hunt is underway. Five hunters are chosen annually to participate in a hunt for cow elk. The hunt was accommodated with the first management plan adopted for the Park, back in 2012. Colorado Parks and Wildlife advocated for the hunt and continues to support it. The hunt both provides a unique opportunity for the public to experience the open space and benefits local habitat for wildlife in the long run. In the relative absence of natural predators, even this small degree of hunting pressure increases elk movement and prevents a refuge effect in the Park that could negatively impact the habitat through overuse and intensive browsing. With the exception of this hunt, no hunting is permitted on Pitkin County open spaces.
Starting Dec. 1, various open spaces will close to protect wintering wildlife during a time when many animals, including elk, deer, moose and bighorn sheep, must subsist on a starvation diet of dead plant material. Wildlife closures give animals space to survive the harsh months of winter without the added stress of interactions with humans or, where they are otherwise permitted, dogs. On trails that remain open, please give wild animals plenty of space and keep pets leashed. It’s not unusual to encounter elk, for example, along the Rio Grande Trail during the winter. About a mile of the Rio Grande Trail in Snowmass Canyon is closed to dogs from Nov. 15 through April 30 and the stretch between Rock Bottom Ranch and Catherine Bridge will close to all use for the winter starting Nov. 30 at 5 PM. Other open spaces that close Dec. 1 include Red Wind Point, Wheatley Open Space and the Perham Creek trailhead.
Trails that are open year-round include those in the Hunter Creek Valley and on Smuggler Mountain Open Space, and the county’s Prince Creek Trail. Find a full list of winter trail closure information at https://pitkincounty.com/1530/Winter-Trail-Closures.