Hidden Gems campaign offers free public hikes into proposed wilderness areas

By Real Vail
July 5, 2011

The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is offering dozens of free public hikes into proposed Wilderness Areas in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison Counties this summer. In Eagle County four hikes will be offered, beginning this week. On Thursday, there will be an excursion into the Spraddle Creek area adjacent to Vail. Sunday, July 10, the hike will be into Squaw Creek area near Edwards.

The Spraddle Creek hike begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, meeting at the parking area just east of the main Vail exit, on the north side of I-70. The hike is free; registration is required at www.whiteriverwild.org/p-Hikes-74.html. It will be about five hours long and involve crossing Spraddle Creek twice, meandering up through meadows and aspen forests and into mixed evergreen and aspen woods. Spraddle Creek is an excellent example of the mid-elevation habitat, watershed and migratory terrain that the wilderness campaign has painstakingly inventoried and vetted over the last 10 years for inclusion as federally protected Wilderness.

In 2010 and again this April, Congressman Jared Polis introduced a bill into Congress, the Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act, that includes the 9,000 acre Spraddle Creek area, as well as many other areas that the Hidden Gems Campaign advocates for protection.

The other hikes planned in Eagle County include:

Sunday, July 10: West Lake Creek addition to Holy Cross Wilderness. This hike begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Squaw Creek trailhead in Edwards, and ends 7.5 miles later at West Lake Creek. Come prepared for several creek crossings.

Sunday, July 17: Castle Peak

Sunday, August 14: Lower Piney

Explore the many lands under consideration for wilderness in nearby counties as well. Learn more about the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign and sign up for hikes at www.whiteriverwild.org.

As always, when hiking in Colorado's mountains, come prepared with adequate water, hat, sun and insect protection, rain gear, extra layers of clothing, a small personal first aid kit and a camera. When creek crossings are involved, spare socks are a great idea.

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