County agencies urge holiday hikers to use free bus to access Wildernest trails
In anticipation of Labor Day weekend, backcountry crowds and multiple agencies from around the county are teaming up to urge hikers to use public transit to access the popular Buffalo Cabin and Lily Pad trailheads at the top of the Wildernest mountain-side community.
In a joint statement, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, the Summit County Open Space & Trails Department and the U.S. Forest Service said parking congestion and illegal parking at the top of Ryan Gulch Road have become a regular problem this summer. It has prompted the partners to work together to reduce impacts to local neighborhoods and address traffic safety issues, particularly in advance of this holiday weekend.
The trailhead is popular among locals and visitors who use it to access day hikes or extended trips into the Eagles Nest Wilderness. However, overflow at the parking area has created safety issues on the adjacent roadway. Together, the partners have installed new signs to remind drivers that parking on county rights of way – both the road and shoulder – is prohibited.
“The Sheriff’s Office will have a presence up there to inform and educate trailhead users about where parking is allowed and where it’s not,” said Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons. “We’ll conduct enforcement action if we need to, but we hope that won’t be necessary.”
Summit County Transit Director Curtis Garner suggested hikers use free parking at the Frisco Transit Center to board a bus that connects to the free Wildernest Loop. It departs every hour, on the hour, and the trip to the trailhead takes 25 minutes.
The Wildernest Loop bus then departs the Silverthorne Station at 15 minutes past every hour, beginning at 6:15 a.m., with service to the trailhead, arriving at 22 minutes past the hour. After a hike, recreators can then board the bus at 22 minutes past the hour to return to the Silverthorne Station at 45 minutes past the hour. From the Silverthorne Station, riders can access bus routes that provide free service to Frisco, Dillon, Keystone and other destinations in Summit County.
“It is no longer just the weekends and holidays, often the trailhead parking lot is at capacity during a typical weekday,” said Adam Bianchi, deputy district ranger.
There will also be a re-route on the Lily Pad Trail this weekend, said Cindy Ebbert, the USFS Dillon District’s wilderness & trails manager. Due to a trail maintenance project being conducted by the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and U.S. Forest Service staff, hikers will need to take a detour around the work site that is well marked with orange cones.
The project workers are replacing a wooden boardwalk that is in disrepair along the Lily Pad Lake trail. The project is located just before the wilderness boundary if you are hiking from the trailhead at the top of Ryan Gulch Road.
The crew’s work began Aug. 22, running Tuesday through Friday of each week, and will continue through Sept. 8. The project was funded by the National Forest Foundation, Ski Conservation Fund.
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