Section of Wilson Mesa Trail Closed Through Private Land
Jul 08, 2006 | 254 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The U.S. Forest Service announced that a segment of the Wilson Mesa Trail that crosses private land would no longer be open to public access. The trail closure affects a one-tenth-mile trail segment near the Sunshine Mesa Trailhead (also known as "Bilk Creek"). The Forest Service has installed "route closed" signs at both ends of the closed trail segment.

The 11-mile Wilson Mesa Trail is a motorized single track trail located approximately seven miles southwest of Telluride. It is open to motorcycles, mountain bikes, horses, and hikers.

Landowners John Friedman and Kristin Shepherd informed the Forest Service earlier this year that a segment of the Wilson Mesa Trail crossed their private property. This was the first the Forest Service knew of the trespass. The owners recently notified the Norwood Ranger District that they intend to begin fencing their property, including the boundary where the trespass trail crosses.

The Forest Service plans to remedy the trespass situation by constructing a trail around the private property, with environmental analysis for the project beginning this fall and trail construction beginning early next summer. Volunteers from the San Juan Trail Riders, a local motorcycle group, have offered to help scout the trail reroute.

"I want to emphasize that only the one-tenth-mile segment that crosses private property is unavailable for public access," said Judy Schutza, Norwood District Ranger. "The remaining portions of the trail that cross National Forest System lands are still open for use."

A four-mile detour around the private property is accessible on already established trails, the Morning Star and Lizard head trails, but only for non-motorized purposes.

"They are existing trails that were never open to motorcycles," said Kathy Peckham, Recreation Staff for the Norwood Ranger District. "We wouldn't change it without having to go through quite a process." The new segment of trail to be completed next year will be open to motorcycles, however.

Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians can access the detour from the Sunshine Mesa Trailhead by proceeding about two and one-half miles south to the Morningstar Mine. From there, they can walk or ride north on the Lizard Head Trail to reconnect with the Wilson Mesa Trail.

Motorcyclists can still ride on the western section of the Wilson Mesa Trail by starting from the Silver Pick Road trailhead and riding about five miles before coming to and turning around at the private land.

The five-mile section of the Wilson Mesa Trail that is located between the Silver Pick and Fall Creek roads is unaffected by the trail trespass and is consequently open to motorcycles, mountain bikes, horses and hikers.
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