The Land Trust has been working with our partners over the last week or so and the Sage Hills Trails system will open early this year – tomorrow, March 25th – a week earlier than the standard April 1st opening date.
Our mild winter has led to lower mule deer counts in the lower reaches of the Wenatchee Foothills and drier trails. About a third of the trail system, managed by CDLT, crosses the Home Water Wildlife Preserve. The Chelan PUD owns the Home Water Preserve and manages it for wildlife mitigation for Rock Island Dam as required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and this includes a yearly seasonal closure.
As has happened in the past, this will be a phased opening, starting with the lowest elevation trails and trailheads opening on March 25, with higher elevation trails at Horse Lake Reserve opening after April 1, based on road and trail conditions. This phased opening allows the deer to move up without recreational impacts and allows the trails at higher elevation to dry out prior to recreational use.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created extremely unusual circumstances and the trails offer a responsible way for our community to get outside for both mental and physical health. It is extremely crucial for the health and safety of our community to practice “social distancing” while recreating outdoors. Here are some tips:
- Pay close attention to how you are feeling. If you're feeling at all unwell, stay home.
- Recreate alone, or only with people in your household.
- Maintain at least a 6 foot distance from others. Be mindful of those around you—if other people are already stopped at a viewpoint, try stopping on your way back down. If the parking lot of your favorite hike looks full, move on to a different hike you’ve been meaning to try. Minimize the potential for close encounters on narrow trails.
- When passing another hiker either head on or from behind, alert the other hiker. One hiker should move several feet off the trail to allow the other to pass.
- Keep hands clean. Wash your hands before and after your outdoor recreation adventures. Avoid touching common surfaces, such as gates, tables, fences, or objects that other people may have touched. If touching these surfaces is unavoidable, sanitize your hands immediately afterwards.
- Stay local. Preferably, you should recreate directly from home. If you drive to a trailhead, do that locally as well. This limits the potential of spreading the virus to other communities, or bringing it back from a place you have visited outside the Valley.
CDLT manages and maintains the foothills trails with the hard word of our amazing volunteers. At this time, all trail maintenance has been suspended per Governor Inslee’s proclamation. We are counting on the community to abide by the guidelines and rules to keep our trails in good shape during this time. Check out trail conditions and updates on our website often.
If you would like to support these trails, you can become a member of the Land Trust with a gift of as little as $5 per month.