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Forest Service, Pitkin County examining high use in Castle Creek valley

Feb 22, 2015

A line of cars snakes down Castle Creek Road near the trailhead for Conundrum Hot Springs. The popular spot is one the Forest Service and Pitkin County are examining.
Credit Marci Krivonen

The two largest public landowners in the Castle Creek Valley are gathering data to determine how to manage the area the future. The effort comes as the Forest Service and Pitkin County are seeing increased use of trails and roads. 

The entities are looking at the Castle Creek watershed from ridge to ridge, starting just past the urban growth boundary to the top of Pearl Pass and Taylor Pass.

The groups have seen a rise in use at spots like the Conundrum Hot Springs, American Lake and Cathedral Lake trails. Cindy Houben is Pitkin County’s Community Development Director.

"We realized that Castle Creek is getting lots of use. It’s in danger of maybe getting loved to death like some other county properties. We’ve asked the Forest Service to work with us because a lot of the attraction to the Castle Creek valley is with the Forest Service properties."

The high use is mostly based on anecdotal information, so the groups are gathering visitation data from Ashcroft Ski Touring, the historic townsite and the Braun Huts. They are also counting vehicles and bicyclists. A public meeting is planned in April.