Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Ice Lakes closed for summer 2021 due to wildfire — The Know

The scenic Ice Lakes area near Silverton, a high alpine setting which offers one of the most beautiful and popular hikes in Colorado, will be closed this summer because of damage caused by a wildfire last fall.

Many trees weakened by the fire are falling on lower sections of the Ice Lake Trail, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release announcing that the area will be closed until Sept. 15.

And that’s not the only problem.

“Trees, rocks, and boulders continue to fall across the Clear Lake road,” the news release explained. “Exposed soils devoid of vegetation are saturated by rain and snow and are loose, unstable, and prone to erosion events. Typical high-elevation afternoon thunderstorms and monsoon rains pose further hazard in producing debris flows.”

RELATED: Hikers at popular Ice Lakes Trail left behind feces, trash, and damaged historic mining structures

The Ice Lakes area suffered considerable resource damage last summer as Coloradans and tourists sought outdoor activities during the pandemic. An area that used to see 250 people on a busy weekend day was attracting 400-600 a day, seven days a week, according to Jed Botsford, recreation staff officer for the Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest.

Then in October, the wildfire burned nearly 600 acres near the Ice Lakes trailhead. Two dozen hikers had to be evacuated by helicopter.

Public entry will be prohibited this summer while forest service crews work to mitigate hazards in the fire scar. Violations will be punishable as Class B misdemeanors with fines up to $5,000.

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