Conundrum Creek Trailhead and Parking area Temporarily Closed due to Avalanche

March 21, 2019

ASPEN, Colo. - A landscape-changing avalanche event has impacted the Conundrum Creek trailhead and drainage. The slide occurred sometime between the evening of March 8 and the morning of March 9. The parking area and trailhead are currently inaccessible and buried under an estimated 15-30 feet of compacted snow and debris.

parking lot with a light dusting of snow
Conundrum Trailhead Before (2018)
Parking lot is no longer visible under an avalanche of snow.
Conundrum Trailhead After (2019)

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District has issued a temporary closure order of the Conundrum Creek Trailhead/parking area until further notice, please do not drive any vehicle into the parking area. At this time, there is no winter parking in the vicinity of Conundrum Creek Trailhead. Public parking on Conundrum Creek Road is prohibited and there is no opportunity to turn around on the road due to avalanche debris and snowpack, and attempting to do so may result in trespassing on private property. The trailhead and parking area closure could extend into the summer and fall season depending on when the snow recedes enough to address the underlying debris and damage. The Forest Service is working in partnership with Pitkin County to assess the situation.

The Conundrum Creek Trail remains open; however, the trail is buried under large amounts of snow and debris and route finding is expected to be difficult. Avalanche and debris hazards exist up to Silver Dollar Pond, and conditions beyond that point are unknown at this time. 

“We are anticipating debris and damage at the trailhead and parking area when the snow melts,” said Karen Schroyer, District Ranger. “The trees are virtually gone from the both sides of the drainage. We assume that hundreds, if not thousands of trees are buried under compacted snow and other debris. We are up against a big challenge this summer to restore vehicle access at the trailhead.” 

Several other areas across the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District have experienced impacts due to avalanche slides. The Forest Service is aware that major slides have occurred across the District from Highway 82 below Independence Pass to Maroon Creek Road and Marble.

“Likely there are areas that have slid that we don’t yet know about,” said Shelly Grail, District Recreation Manager. “As the snow melts we will assess the damage. We expect that downed trees and debris will be a challenge on our trails and roads across the District. We will prioritize our work based on the areas of highest use, extent of damage, and employee capacity.”

Conditions continue to vary and snow is in the weather forecast for the area for the next few days. Before heading out into the backcountry, check conditions at Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and ‘know before you go.’

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District needs your help! As the snow begins to melt in the coming months, the District is asking for local help in reporting trail conditions so Forest Service Staff can track damage and debris across the District and prioritize work. 

Please submit information to the Sopris Ranger Station by calling 970-963-2266. For continued updates visit www.Recreation.gov or https://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver.

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD615622