The U.S. Forest Service on Friday expects to install a gate to close off a road leading to the popular Pikes Peak recreation area known as the Crags.
The agency in 2017 announced a government order to keep drivers off the rugged Forest Service Road 383 when deep snow makes driving on it hazardous. The road, leading to the Crags trailhead in Teller County, had proven to be treacherous for vehicles in the winter, with even the most equipped rigs sliding off and getting stuck in ditches beside the woods. Those without cell service were having to hoof it back to call a tow.
It was a scene observed last weekend: Multiple vehicles were stranded, threatening to block drivers making their way to and from the trailhead beloved by snowshoers.
Pike National Forest spokesman Gregg Goodland said in a phone call that the government shutdown had kept rangers from installing to the gate. Before the shutdown started Dec. 22, he said the road had not been deemed hazardous enough to close.
“In the case of the Crags road, the district tries to strike a balance of providing access to the amenities up drainage and closing the road when the snow becomes unmanageable,” he said.
Since the partial government shutdown ended two weeks ago, Goodland said rangers have been busy catching up on other tasks. But on Friday, a plow was scheduled to clear the parking area by the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp’s cabin, just before Road 383. Though parking space is limited, visitors from there can cross-country ski or snowshoe the road’s 2 miles to the trailhead. The gate will be lifted once snow melts.
In recent years, land managers had closed the road to take down timber killed by beetles. With the possibility of dead trees collapsing, dispersed camping was banned. The Forest Service reported mass removal ended two winters ago.
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