Avoid taking a mud bath
Walking or riding on Riverfront Trail will get you away from muddy trails
What do you get when you mix a foot of old, crusted leftover Thanksgiving snow and 50-degree mid-February temperatures?
A major hankering to play in the mud!
Mud season is in full swing across the valley, from Bangs Canyon just south of Colorado National Monument to Hunter Canyon at the base of the Bookcliffs; from Rapid Creek in Palisade to the north Fruita desert; from Pollock Canyon in the McGinnis Canyons National Conservation Area to the Lunch Loop on Monument Road, Corn Lake on 32 Road, and the road in front of your own home.
If you bike or hike, do it early in the morning. You may find most trails around here in fairly good shape. If you trek later in the day, however, and you plan on a couple-hour outing, you may be sloshing through mud upon your return.
In other words, put the paper down and go outside now. Sure, it’ll be a little warmer later in the day, but there’s mud out there, and you’d better take your boots off before you come back into the house, Mister, if you know what’s good for you!
Then, you can finish the paper and confirm what I’m saying is correct.
If you’re a road cyclist, it’s OK to go a little later in the day, since it will be warmer. Of course, you’ll still encounter mud, rocks, gravel, tumbleweeds and all sorts of spring-like signs along the roadways, so be careful.
You will encounter mud throughout the happy valley. However, from a cycling and hiking perspective, I’ve found this week that the best place to avoid mud is along the Colorado Riverfront Trail.
Since the trail runs along the river, there is plenty of mud, but this 12-foot wide trail is paved. That makes travel much easier for mothers with baby strollers, road cyclists, dog walkers and other outdoor buffs as they enjoy this pleasant weather, without also experiencing the issues related to mud, specifically vacuum and mop.
The Riverfront Trail system is an ongoing, 25-plus year-old valley-wide project to provide an uninterrupted public trail system from Palisade to Fruita. We’re almost there. As you read this (late in the afternoon) the newest stretch is being completed between Walker State Wildlife Area near 22 Road and the river, to the Fruita Visitor’s Center. Completion is scheduled for September.
“Thousands of hours and dollars have been donated to provide a safe haven for native plants and animals and a welcome break from our busy lives,” according to the kind-hearted folk at the Riverfront Commission.
They remind us that “by recreating wisely we can minimize our impact on wildlife, their habitat, and fellow trail users while enjoying your outdoor experience even more. With thousands of people visiting the Riverfront Trails each year, the less impact we each make, the longer we will enjoy what we have.”
There are a few spots where you will encounter some wintertime debris: the underpass at the Grand Avenue Bridge; or the underpass near the river at Corn Lake; or any spot where a vehicle crossed the trail.
Please slow down in these areas and don’t skid out. That still hurts, no matter what time of year. Also, let people know you’re coming up behind them, so you can avoid giving them a heart attack.
I found one of the least muddy spots to hike the other day — off the paved path — was through the Connected Lakes Section of the Colorado River State Park.
For those of you who don’t know, Connected Lakes is located behind the Redlands Shopping Center/Albertson’s, on Broadway.
Muddy or not, the Grand Valley Audubon Society property adjacent to this state park shows what can be done with a little diligence, and a lot of dedication and hard work (thank you Bob Wilson!) to battle two of the greatest scourges of the west — Russian Olive and Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar.
These invasive species were brought to this country in the late 1800s in an effort to control erosion and provide decorative landscaping. It was soon discovered, however, that the fast growing trees cause much more damage than any benefits they provide.
According to my old buddy Division of Parks and Wildlife Area Supervisor JT Romanske, “The public may not realize that many of the trees they see lining bodies of water are these harmful non-native species. We are planning to remove them from several of our local State Wildlife Areas and parks (including Connected Lakes), then replace them with native plant species that our wildlife needs for health and survival.”
Once mud season is over, of course.