So, if you were keen to squeeze in one more fourteener before the snow flies, you need to know how Front Range options have been affected by the closure of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. The large-scale closure went into effect Wednesday due to fire danger and “unprecedented” fire conditions.
You can still do Mount Bierstadt, which is in the Pike National Forest. Technically, the trailhead and the first quarter-mile of the trail on Guanella Pass are in the Arapaho National Forest, but Arapaho forest spokeswoman Reid Armstrong said “it is not our intention to close that because it leads to the Pike National Forest.” So there is that.
Neighboring Mount Evans is out, even though the two peaks are connected by a ridge, because that is in the Arapaho National Forest.
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You could do Grays and Torreys, but you might want to think twice about them. The common approach to Grays and Torreys from Interstate 70 is closed. They can be climbed from the other side (Summit County), because that is in the White River National Forest, but it’s not recommended. Very few people do that, and for good reasons.
“The trailhead is quite difficult to access, four-wheel drive is a must, and the route is more technical than it is from the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest side,” said Shelly Grail, acting district ranger for the Dillon district of the White River National Forest.
You can do Longs Peak, because it is in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the park is not part of the Roosevelt National Forest even though they border each other. Most of the park remains open, although the northern third is closed. Longs Peak is well south of the closure.
“At this time, approximately 38 percent of the park is closed in the northern area of Rocky Mountain National Park due to Cameron Peak Fire activity outside the park,” said Kyle Patterson, the park’s public affairs officer. “We are continuing to assess conditions on the west side of the park with movement of the East Troublesome Creek Fire, and will implement more closures if necessary. At this time, weather conditions are conducive to keeping Trail Ridge Road open.”
What about other Front Range hiking options? Almost everything from Jefferson County to the Wyoming border along the Continental Divide is closed. Popular destinations affected by the closure of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests include Maxwell Falls, Herman Gulch, Jones Pass, Rollins Pass, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.
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If you’re itching to get out, Jefferson County Open Space remains open.
“For several reasons, including the fact that we banned open flames two years ago, we do not allow dispersed camping, off-road vehicles and others,” said Jeffco Open Space spokesman Matt Robbins. “We do not anticipate needing to close. Of course, we will continue to work with the Jeffco Sherriff and local fire districts.”
Sources: Colorado Geological Survey (elevations), Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (usage estimates). Details link will open in 14ers.com.
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