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The snow is melting and summer is fast approaching. We know you are excited to get out on the trails.

Higher elevation trails take longer to melt out than eager hikers, runners and bikers would like, and using the trails too early can damage them. Luckily, Stewardship Coordinator Kevin Starr has been on reconnaissance across the Land Trust’s trail system, assessing winter damage and identifying repairs needed this summer.

Here are our top three early season trail recommendations, along with the status on trails that will have to wait a little longer:

  1. Waddle Ranch Preserve: Clear throughout and ready to go. This trail system is always a good choice for early and late season hiking – we recommend exploring Waddle Ranch before the heat of the summer (early mornings are best for bird watching at Lake Ella).

  2. Elizabethtown Meadows Trail: Clear of snow and beautiful this time of year – there will be a few muddy patches to tread lightly through. Park across Highway 267 to access this great hike.

  3. Johnson Canyon: The Wendin Way Trail running up from Donner Lake Interchange is clearing quickly thanks to its southern aspect, but you'll find snow on the trail as you climb higher on the Donner Lake Rim Trail.

Other trail updates:

  • Donner Summit Canyon Trail: Snow patches remain on the trail below the washed out road section, and snow becomes more continuous as the trail climbs to the picturesque Donner Summit bridge.

  • Royal Gorge: Still generally under snow and not a great option for late spring/early summer hiking.

Here are a few tips to help keep our trails in tip-top shape this time of year:

  • Use your best judgment: If the trail is too wet, not only will it be dirty and less fun, but your use can cause damage and erosion.

  • If you come to a wet spot on the trail, go through, not around. Going around widens the trail, damaging the surrounding plant life and creates drainage problems.

The Land Trust appreciates your help keeping these trails in great shape for everybody to use. Report downed trees and trail damage to Kevin at kevin@tdlandtrust.org.

Photo: Bill Stevenson.

Greyson Howard