Land Trust, Chelan PUD and partners hope for April 5 opening depending on conditions
WENATCHEE, WA – Late season snow and continued cool temperatures led Chelan PUD and Chelan Douglas Land Trust to delay opening the Sage Hills Trails west of Wenatchee for at least a week.
Trail conditions are muddy and feed for migrating mule deer hasn’t “greened up” at lower elevations to fuel their move to higher ground away from trail users. Early spring feed is critical for deer that have exhausted winter fat reserves, said Von Pope, PUD senior wildlife biologist.
“Mule deer will likely stay at lower elevations later than normal this year to take advantage of emerging spring vegetation coming later than usual,” Pope said.
State Fish and Wildlife agents and Chelan County also support the later opening. Horse Lake Road will remain gated and closed to motorized traffic until at least April 5.
Hanne Beener, Land Trust trails program manager, said plans call for opening the Sage Hills trails in stages, starting from access points at the end of Fifth Street, Day Drive and below the gate on Horse Lake Road. Plans are to do that on April 5, depending on conditions.
“Horse Lake Reserve trails and Horse Lake Trailhead may be closed beyond April 5 as they are higher elevation and holding snow and moisture longer,” Beener said. “There may be a rolling opening of Horse Lake Reserve trails as conditions allow, with the goal of having the entire trail system open by Saturday, April 27.”
People can check for trail opening updates on the Land Trust website and at chelanpud.org under “News.”
Chelan PUD owns about 960 acres in the heart of the Sage Hills and manages the area as a wildlife preserve as required by its federal license to operate Rock Island Dam. The Land Trust supports the area closure by closing public access to the Wenatchee Foothills trail system at area trailheads.
The trail closure usually is Dec. 1-March 31. This is the first time in 12 years of coordinated closures that conditions have delayed the spring opening, said Pope.
For more information, contact Von Pope, Chelan PUD senior wildlife biologist, at (509) 661-4625, firstname.lastname@example.org; or CDLT Trails Program Manager Hanne Beener, (509) 667-9708, email@example.com.