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September 8, 2021

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Vivienne Jannatpour, (303) 678-6277

Heil Valley Ranch south side closure extended through spring 2022.

Picture Rock trailhead and north side trails remain open.

Boulder County, Colo. - The Boulder County Board of County Commissioners has approved the Parks & Open Space staff recommendation to continue the full closure of the Geer Canyon access at Heil Valley Ranch through spring 2022.

Due to continued instability in the upper watershed, the complexities of recovery projects, and the dynamic construction timeline, there is no safe and cost-effective way to bring visitors into the park during construction. However, staff will escort volunteers and community groups to assist with recovery projects when conditions are safe and access to the area is practicable. Volunteer opportunities are posted at boco.org/BCPOSvolunteer.

Weather and burn modeling continue to indicate that the Cal-Wood burn area could continue to see significant and dangerous flooding and debris flows during the late summer and fall with impacts to park amenities, roads, and downstream communities. BCPOS continues to work with the Office of Disaster Management and other partners to refine local, advanced weather notifications for both flash floods and debris flows. Due to unstable watershed hydrology, each new storm event brings the potential for visitor evacuations. Evacuations strain first responder resources within the department and county. Consequently, infrastructure replacement and public safety measures to mitigate future weather hazards will continue into 2022 and beyond.

Just over 8 miles of trail are currently closed and will remain closed until recovery is complete. The closure includes all park amenities at the Corral trailhead, the main trailhead, the southern section of the Wapiti Trail, the Lichen Loop, the Overland Trail, the Schoolhouse Loop, and the Grindstone Quarry Trail.

Almost 11 miles of trail at Heil Valley Ranch have been cleared of hazard trees and are open to the public via the Picture Rock trailhead near Lyons. Open trails include the Picture Rock Trail, the Wild Turkey Loop, the Ponderosa Loop, and the northern 1.2 miles of the of the Wapiti Trail.

Recovery operations at Heil Valley Ranch are scheduled to continue through the spring of 2022. Some of the recovery projects include:

  • Design, permitting, and construction of debris flow mitigation structures along Geer Canyon (expected completion March 2022).
  • Design, construction, and installation of three pedestrian bridges (expected completion February 2022).
  • Road culvert replacement (expected completion winter 2022).
  • Fence replacement throughout burn area (expected completion fall 2022).
  • Sign replacement (expected completion April 2022).
  • Replacement of trailhead and parking lot amenities such as parking stops, parking delineators, and gates (expected completion spring 2022).

Safely reopening the entirety of Heil Valley Ranch remains a priority for staff. As the recovery continues, staff will assess visitor safety, construction timelines, and mitigation impacts and provide periodic updates to the community via the BCPOS Heil Valley Ranch recovery webpage, boco.org/heilrecovery.

Picture Rock Trailhead sign

The Picture Rock trailhead near Lyons will remain open, as will the Picture Rock trail, the Wild Turkey and Ponderosa loops, and 1.2 miles of the northern section of the Wapiti trail.