Monday, September 25, 2017

5 Closing Mistakes to Avoid


RE/MAX Blog link

The seller has accepted your offer, the inspector didn't find any underground streams or shaky foundations, and the closing date is set. You're in the homestretch! While you can breathe a little easier, remember, the deal's not done until everyone signs all the (zillion) documents at the closing table. And, your lender can still change their mind. Here are 5 closing mistakes to avoid when buying a home.

1. Don't mess with your income-to-debt ratio

The ratio of your monthly income to your monthly debts is one of the main factors the lender considered when qualifying you. And your lender will probably run your financials two or three more times before closing. While it's tempting, don't take out a big loan for the new deck you want to install when you move into your new place. Don't sign the lease on the new Audi that will look perfect in your new driveway. The bank looks at lease payments like any other debt payment.

2. Don't disappear

Be sure to keep in touch with your lender and be readily available to immediately address any last-minute concerns.

3. Don't change jobs

Lenders love stability. Switching jobs right before closing can make them anxious, and you want to give them every reason to feel confident. Most lenders prefer to have a two-year job history in hand, so making a big career move could slow things down, or squash the deal entirely.

4. Don't open new credit cards

Yes, you'll be buying furniture to fill those lovely rooms. Yes, you might need a new fridge. And yes, new dishes to match the new kitchen would be splendid. But resist the lure of opening new credit cards until after closing. Doing so can affect your credit score. For now, just open catalogs.

5. Don't be late

Even though you may have been riding the real estate roller coaster and life's been chaotic, be sure to stay current with all bill payments. Late payments, too, can affect that all-important credit score.
Wondering what else is involved in the final stretches of a home purchase? Your agent will be happy to answer any of your questions. Find an experienced agent here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Summit County towns outpace last year in sales tax

#Summit County #Colorado

Summit Daily News Link

Coming into the summer months, Dillon had been the only town in Summit County not tracking ahead of last year's sales-tax receipts, but that changed this July as Dillon caught up to last year's total and all four Summit County towns are now ahead in year-to-date comparisons.
With 2 percent growth in July, Dillon's 2017 sales-tax receipts have caught up to last year's total through July. The town started the year down after lagging — generally about 2- 5 percent — each of the first three months of the year.
Dillon started off with January's tax receipts almost 3 percent behind last year's figures. February and March also saw slight declines, but the town made up ground in April and May.
May is typically the most sluggish month of the year in Summit County for businesses, but Dillon saw more than 11 percent growth in its sales-tax receipts this year compared to May 2016, making it the best May Dillon has ever had.
June's numbers weren't quite so rosy and were off about 1 percent from the prior year. Still, with July's growth, the town sits .05 percent ahead in a year-to-date comparison, making it the first time this year that Dillon has been ahead in a YTD comparison.
For Silverthorne, July's sales-tax receipts came in 9 percent ahead of July 2016, with the month eclipsing $1 million for the first time ever and helping the town get more than 7 percent ahead in a YTD comparison.
The trend of rising sales-tax receipts is nothing new for Silverthorne, and there's been 3 percent to 11 percent growth every year since at least 2013.
At the same time, YTD tax receipts through July have raised from $5 million in 2013 to $6.2 million this year for the town.
For just July, every sector grew in Silverthorne with the service industry leading all others up 57 percent, and the Outlets, which are in the middle of their fall sales campaign and dealing with a bridge-replacement project, posting the most modest gain at 2.8 percent.
Frisco's sales-tax receipts for July had some wild fluctuations, but town revenue specialist Chad Most attributed much of those spikes to corrections rather than actual market conditions.
Take restaurants, for example. The sector was down 6.5 percent compared to July 2016, but Most explained the decline was largely a result of sales taxes for a restaurant with multiple locations being incorrectly reported for just Frisco.
With monies originally collected for Frisco being redistributed, that's why Most said Frisco saw a decline in that category.
Additionally, Frisco's recreation category posted a nearly 50 percent gain, but much of that growth was distributed to Frisco in error, Most said, and the spike shouldn't be nearly so dramatic.
"If we had not received those sales taxes in error … it would have dropped our growth of 3.4 percent in July over last July," Most said of Frisco's overall sales tax collections. "But the real numbers — we would have been 1.4 percent up, and that's a better reflection of the actual growth we saw in July."
Most added that he anticipates the high growth percentages — high single- to double-digit percentages that Frisco's seen as of late — will start to drop to a more measured 2-to-3 percent range.
"All in all, despite the fact growth percentages have come down a little bit, we're still pretty bullish," he said.
Breckenridge is tracking ahead of budget and prior year results through the first eight months of this year, according to the town's most recent financial report.
Altogether, the town is approximately $2.8 million ahead of 2017 budgeted revenues in the excise fund, which is largely being attributed to the real estate transfer tax being $1.7 million over budget and up $873,000 ahead of the prior year.
Additionally, the retail, marijuana, restaurants and bars, grocery and liquor, construction and utility sectors have all grown in YTD comparisons.
Of those, construction has seen the most dramatic increase at just over 12 percent, but July was not the best month for the sector, which dipped 11 percent compared to July 2016.
At the same time, the town saw a slight 2.8 percent decline in taxes from short-term housing in July compared to July 2016. The decline, however, is being attributed to the Peak 2 fire.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

August 2017 Housing Report: 3 Things to Know


While inventory disappeared faster than a popsicle in July, slightly fewer (0.8 percent) homes sold, according to the August RE/MAX National Housing Report. The report analyzes real estate data in 54 metro areas across the U.S.
It's not unusual to see a dip in sales in July.
"This summertime slowdown is a national trend that we sometimes see this time of year, even though this month's decrease was razor thin," said Adam Contos, RE/MAX Co-CEO.
Here's what you need to know about July's transactions.

1. Sales prices rose with temperatures.

Up 7.4 percent from July 2016, the Median Sales Price for all 54 metro areas was $239,950. That's the highest price for July in the nine-year history of the report. Prices in seven metro areas shot up by double digit percentages, with the most impressive rates in Seattle, WA (+13.7%); Tampa, FL, (+13.5 %); Milwaukee, WI, (+11.6%) and Charlotte, NC (+11 %).

2. Homes sold at high-speed.

Homes continued to sell more quickly, with the average Days on Market for July just 45, down two days from June and eight days from July 2017. Where did homes move fastest? Omaha, NE; Seattle, WA; Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA had the lowest average Days on Market.

3. Inventory continues to be tight

Inventory dropped 14.1 percent from last year, with 46 metro areas seeing fewer, or the same number, of homes for sale. Inventory has shrunk every month since November 2008. The Months Supply of Inventory set a new July low in the report's history, hovering around 3.1 months. A supply of six months is considered balanced. "Low inventory continues to constrain the market," said Contos. "Successful buyers will have to be prepped and ready to act fast to purchase listings that, on average, are selling in record time."
For a deeper dive into what happened in July, view the infographic below:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Why do leaves change color? The science behind fall foliage and best places to view around Summit County

Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

As the days begin to shorten and crisp mornings bring the anticipation of winter, Summit County takes one last breath of brilliance before succumbing to the snow. The explosion of reds, yellows and oranges from the fall foliage along the trails and across the peaks give the High Country breathtaking views almost anywhere traveled.


Although fall in the mountains is relatively short, the turning of the leaves can be counted on each year.
"There's three factors that influence the leaf color," said Adam D. Bianchi, deputy district ranger of the United States Forest Service — Dillon Ranger District.
Those factors are leaf pigments, the length of night and the weather, he said. "Typically we think that weather really affects the change, but realistically it's more the length of the night. … Every calendar year we can predict when the colors are going to start to change. When the days get shorter and the nights get longer, a biochemical process starts to occur inside the leaves."
The process affects three pigments produced in the leaves: chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins. Chlorophyll gives leaves their basic green color and is produced in photosynthesis through sunlight. With shorter days and longer nights, the chemical reaction of photosynthesis slows.
"The sunlight that it was using to manufacture some of the sugars that cause photosynthesis begin to slow down, and then it pushes all of those sugars into the root system," Bianchi said. "So when that happens, we tend to see more of this carotenoid pigment that's in the leaf all year round, we just don't see it because how much chlorophyll is there."
Carotenoids are the yellow, orange and brown colors seen in the fall, which is often the pigment seen in carrots, rutabagas and corn, Bianchi said.
While sugars are being pulled down into the root system and chlorophyll is no longer being produced, anthocyanins comes into play because the tree is trying to produce as much sugar as possible to pull into the root system for dormant season. Anthocyanins gives the leaves that red, purple color — the same pigment seen in cranberries, red apples and blueberries, Bianchi said.
"Basically, during the summer growing season, chlorophyll is continually produced, broken down, and so the leaves are green," he said. "As the night length increases in fall, the chlorophyll production slows down, stops and eventually the chlorophyll is then destroyed, and that's why we see the carotenoids and anthocyanins already present."


In Summit County, the vibrant colors are only seen a few weeks out of the year — here one minute and gone the next. How long the leaves stick around in those colors varies by tree species and when they start to turn is based off of latitude in the United States.
"It's kind of genetically inherited when the colors come on and how long they stay," Bianchi said. "In late September in New England states, they will start to change color and move southward across the United States. But at that same time — it's basically based off of latitude in the United States — so at that same latitude here in Colorado and in the high mountain elevation, you'll see stuff changing the same time you might see something change in New England."
How long the leaves will stay in their autumn colors is affected by weather conditions. Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights brings more spectacular color displays, because that weather pattern produces more sugars inside the leaves, and cool nights and gradual closing of the veins within the leaves prevent the sugars from moving out quicker. With this type of weather, the colors come on later and last longer into the fall.
"A lot of times you'll see that more with the reds and purples," Bianchi said. "So on the flip side, more of the yellows, the aspens that we see, are more dependent on soil moisture. If we have a late spring, or severe summer drought, it can delay those colors."
A warm period during the fall will also lower the intensity of the colors. So the most favorable conditions for vibrant yellow colors are a warm, wet spring, and warm, sunny fall days with cool nights. In the mountains, the leaves begin to change first at higher elevations, and move down to the valley bottoms.
"If you get a cold snap in, or a nice frost, it could really shut things down quickly," he said.


Acorn Creek
North of Silverthorne
Acorn Creek trailhead can be accessed by driving north on Highway 9 from Silverthorne for approximately 10.6 miles. After you cross the Blue River you will immediately turn right onto CR 2400 (Ute Park Road). At the first junction, continue left following the trailhead sign. Then turn right onto FDR 2402 (Rodeo Drive) and travel approximately 0.6 miles to the trailhead/parking lot. (Directions from US Forest Service website.)
"I really like Acorn Creek. … That to me is a great place to view (leaves)," Bianchi said.
Beaver Creek Trail
Fairplay, Park County
In the summer, Beaver Creek Road is open to traffic, but there are also numerous hiking, biking and 4WD trails in the vicinity to get off the main path. It takes roughly an hour to get to the area from Frisco, but the views even from just the road are exploding with color right now.
Boreas Pass
Elevation: 11,488 feet
On the south end of Breckenridge is Boreas Pass. The road is open to vehicles during the summer, or park in the lot and hike or bike up. The road has a gradual ascent to the summit, making it a relatively easy hike. Boreas offers an expansive view of the Blue River Valley and the Ten Mile Range, and also boasts views of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Cataract Lake area
North of Silverthorne
This trail is roughly 25 miles north of Silverthorne near Heeney. Getting to Upper Cataract Lake is a hike — it requires about six hours of hiking over 10.5 miles of trail, with an elevation gain of 2,000 vertical feet. Lower Cataract is easier, the trail is about 2 miles long with minimal incline.
Fremont Pass
Elevation: 11,319 feet
Fremont Pass forms the Continental Divide on the border between Lake County and Summit County. Take the Copper Mountain exit (195) and follow CO-91 south — it takes about 20 minutes from Frisco.
Guanella Pass
Elevation: 11,670 feet
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway is a 23-mile route through Pike and Arapaho national forest land that links Georgetown and Grant. The road is rugged, which means less traffic. Guanella Pass takes about an hour to get to from Frisco.
Hoosier Pass
Elevation: 11,542 feet
Hoosier Pass separates Summit and Park counties. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass for picture taking, as well as hiking trails. Coming down Hoosier Pass into Park County also lends itself to spectacular views of the valley.
Kenosha Pass
Elevation: 9,997 feet
Getting to this pass takes a little over an hour from Frisco, but it is one of the most popular areas for leaf peeping. This also means beware the crowds — weekends especially — so watch for slowing traffic and pedestrians when getting close to the top.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tenderfoot 2 Fire caused by power line sparks, officials say

#Dillon #Colorado
Courtesy Summit Daily

Summit Daily News Link

Officials said Wednesday that an exploded power line insulator cap caused the Tenderfoot 2 Fire near Dillon Monday evening, creating sparks that ignited nearby grasses and setting off a roughly 25-acre wildfire.
The fire was first reported at around 5 p.m. Mondaynear U.S. Highway 6 and Corinthian Circle, coinciding with a roughly two-hour power outage in Dillon.
An early air attack with two fixed-wing tankers and two helicopters quickly slowed the fire's spread, and hand crews contained 50 percent of it by Tuesday evening.
A spokesman for Xcel Energy, which operates power lines in the area, said the company needed to review official reports and complete its own inquiry before providing comment.
The U.S. Forest Service, which took over command of the blaze from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue Monday evening, does not yet have a cost estimate for the air attack.
On Wednesday, about 120 firefighters continued to extinguish hot spots and monitor the fire should it start to spread. High winds have buffeted Summit County with gusts up to 50 miles per hour since Tuesday, but so far they haven't whipped up the fire.
The Oro Grande and Tenderfoot Mountain trails remained closed until further notice. The Forest Service also asked the public to avoid the Tenderfoot Mountain area between Straight Creek Road and Frey Gulch Road for safety reasons.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tenderfoot 2 Fire now 50 percent contained, officials “cautiously optimistic”

#Dillon #Colorado
Summit Daily News Photo

Summit Daily News Link

The winds came with fury on Tuesday, but they were too late to rouse the Tenderfoot 2 Fire near Dillon. By the afternoon, its once-fearsome plume of smoke had reduced to pale wisps, and in the evening fire officials declared it 50 percent contained.
Firefighters and aircraft hammered away at the fire early in the morning when the day was still calm, and their work paid off, keeping the blaze from growing even when the wind howled as fast as 50 miles per hour.
"We had a solid box around the fire before the winds picked up," U.S. Forest Service incident commander Eric White said Tuesday evening. "We had an incredibly successful day on the fire line today."
As a rule, fire officials avoid calling fires "out" prematurely; embers can continue smoldering for weeks after the firefighting stops, and smoke from Tenderfoot 2 will likely stick around for several days.
"We're looking at another day of very high winds and dry weather (Wednesday), so we're really on our toes," White cautioned.
But by Tuesday evening the fire looked cowed, if not quite whipped. A red flag wind advisory remained in place until 8 p.m., but hours of gusts throughout the day had failed to fan the flames back to life.
"I've been fighting fires for 40 years, and this is how a wildfire needs to be run," said Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue chief Jeff Berino. "We need to be very proud of ourselves."
The fire started at around 5 p.m. on Mondayright next to U.S. Highway 6. Like the Peak 2 Fire near Breckenridge in July, Monday's blaze got a healthy dose of air power within hours of igniting.
"When we looked at he values at risk and the risks to firefighter safety, we pretty quickly realized we needed a heavy air attack," White said.
Before the sun was down, two air tankers had strafed the fire at least half-a-dozen times with flame retardant slurry, and helicopters dropped bucket after bucket of water from Lake Dillon.
"That initial attack went very smoothly, but when we left (Monday) night there was still a lot of heat in that fire, so we knew we needed to continue with air support," White said.
In the morning, the tankers dropped a few final loads before packing it in, and the helicopters followed later in the afternoon.
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, but it coincided with a power outage in Dillon that lasted as long as two hours in some homes. Incident spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said she was not aware of any additional outages on Tuesday.
Since the blaze also sprang up in the midst of power transmission lines, officials say that what caused the outage could have started the fire as well.
"The fire may have been related to the cause of the outage," LeClair said. "It's very possible given the proximity of the fire to the power lines, but investigators still need to go in and figure out the exact origin and work from there,"
The fire was hair-raisingly close not just to power lines but also microwave communications repeaters, a water plant and the Corinthian Hill and Oro Grande neighborhoods. They could be in danger should the fire stir again.
The topography, however, looked favorable from the start, and no neighborhoods were ever placed on pre-evacuation notice. If the fire was going to grow, officials predicted, it would grow uphill and into the wilderness.
The landscape was also fairly accessible for firefighters, although the power lines and patches of standing dead beetle-kill posed safety risks.
The entire Tenderfoot Trail system was closed on Tuesday and likely to remain so until the fire is mostly out and crews have felled some of the burned-up standing snags.
In the late afternoon, crews could be seen in the distance starting the mop-up effort, mostly by extinguishing smoldering patches within the fire zone.
"We are cautiously optimistic," LeClair said. "Crews have done a really great job and once they come down tonight we'll have a much better idea of what the percent containment is and what conditions are looking like up there."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

3 Things to Consider Before Registering Your Home on a Short-Term Rental Site

Michael Yearout Photography

RE/MAX Blog link

Once upon a time, the idea of renting out your home to a stranger while you left for vacation was considered quite odd.
Enter changing consumer attitudes, the "sharing economy" and online services such as Airbnb, FlipKey (owned by TripAdvisor) and VRBO (owned by HomeAway, which is now owned by Expedia).
Today, renting a room in your house (or the entire house) to unknown travelers isn't an outlandish concept. Short-term rentals provide an income opportunity for owners and a unique way for visitors to experience a city. What better way to get the local experience than staying with – or renting from – locals?
If you think you're up to being a host of a short-term rental, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn't been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn't have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).
Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws.

2. Taxes

You don't need to report the money earned from the short-term rental of your home if you meet both of these requirements:
1. You rent it out for fewer than 15 days a year AND
2. You live in it for more than 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days you rent it out during the year (this determines if the property is seen as a residence or a rental property by the IRS).
Still unclear about the taxes on your short-term rental? Forbes and TurboTax provide some more information, or you may want to consult with a tax professional.

3. Additional Costs

Renting out your home could mean an extra insurance bill. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your current policy covers regarding short-term renters. They may recommend increasing coverage. Airbnb does provide free primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, and many of the other sites have partnerships that make it easy to take out additional coverage, if needed.
In addition to insurance, you'll have to pay a percentage of the rental income to the website: Airbnb and FlipKey both charge a 3% host service fee, VRBO has an option to pay-per-booking or an annual subscription fee.
Looking for a permanent home in your favorite vacation spot? Search for properties on

Monday, September 18, 2017

Elusive Summit County ponderosa pine bears fruit after 10 years

Courtesy Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

An environmental enigma in Keystone at least a decade in the making was finally cracked this past week, and the unpredictable event could have ramifications for generations to come.
The ponderosa pine features prominently across the Western United States, but within Summit County is a bit of an arboreal marvel. The thick, orange-barked conifer that's been called "a Clint Eastwood of a tree" due to its lean, rugged appearance is hidden in plain sight, and a singular patch is nearly all that remains of the mysterious foliage in the Dillon Ranger District.
Actually locating the slender evergreen locally, however, requires finding a pine needle in a tree stack of its cousin — the omnipresent lodgepole. But in spite of environmental challenges, sustain the tree has, even if its lone site of any significance in the area only makes up about 10 acres near the county landfill.
"It's maybe 100-to-120 trees total, so it's pretty small," said Sarah Pearson, the reforestation guru of the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest. "In terms of forest, that's nothing. And in fact, looking at the imagery, it's hardly considered a forested stand."
Which is why the 30-year timber improvement specialist — 22 of them here in the region's national forest — has been eagerly watching the diminutive tree collective for years with some optimism. The hope was that it would finally bear fruit in the form of a quality pine cone crop and she could help aid its long-term survival should a catastrophic incident like a large-scale wildfire ever strike the last group of holdouts.
Fifteen years since the previous harvest, the county's last group of holdouts on public lands at long last complied and rewarded the patience with 16 bushels of cones. The consenting act will now ensure the tree's prolonged existence.
"I think I've been trying to collect cones there for 10 years," said Pearson. "This is why it was kind of a big deal for me. You always have to kind of pay attention and take advantage of all the opportunities that you get."
Due to U.S. Forest Service constraints, transferring seeds from one zone or wilderness district to another is forbidden, so mining what's already there is one of the few options to eventually restore a species. The largest quantity of ponderosa in the White River, between 200 and 300 acres, lives in the neighboring Eagle District north of Dotsero, for instance, but because those trees are at a lower altitude they are not fully adapted to survive in Summit County.
The experts say maintaining a mixed forest is key to safeguarding against total loss if either an ailment or hungry insect rolls through town with a particular craving. It makes the ecosystem more resilient, especially for the limited variety within the Dillon District, and in the specific case of the ponderosa it has the added benefit of being both fairly drought- and fire-resistant.
"In the arid, high-elevation mountain, we have less species to begin with that can live here," explained Bill Jackson, ranger for the Dillon District. "So we're already starting at a lower diversity level compared to the Northeast, Southeast or Southwest. That's why this pocket of ponderosa is pretty important, and if we can help it along it allows us to maintain that diversity."
To do that, though, seed must first be obtained and sent off for processing, seedling production and seed bank storage at the federal agency's tree nursery in Nebraska. And before the fortuitous collection last week, the previous ponderosa seed from the area stemmed from the 1960s and was fully exhausted during prior replanting efforts at two forest campgrounds in the district.
Why the ponderosa pine has struggled so mightily in the area is somewhat puzzling as well. The tree tends to thrive in hot, drier climates and can grow at elevations approaching 10,000 feet.
That it's also seemingly taken to the one site in Keystone is equally curious. Anecdotally, forest staff theorizes that the Tenderfoot Mountain area is often the first to dry out on the county's north end each year from the amount of direct sunlight.
"I call it 'The banana belt of Summit County,'" said Jackson. "It just seems hotter and sunnier right there in Dillon, though it is pretty bizarre. But it's probably one of the reasons why they're still there — the habitat is good for it."
Extracting the seeds and yielding starter trees for eventual reforestation activities takes two years unto itself, and Pearson isn't sure yet when she'll file the formal request. Once ready though, selecting where to plant the trees to give them their best chance at success is the next decision — one that also comes with consequential implications because, again, it's unclear the next time the mature trees will offer another chance to stockpile more cones.
"Everyone wants to know, 'What are you going to do with it?'" she said. "It's hard to say, but the big thing is just to have it, and we should have seed for another 10-to-20 years now, at least. But when you get something good, you have to take advantage of it because theoretically you may not have another chance for eight (to 10) years."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

White River National Forest officials reiterate guidelines for E-bikes

Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

Because of an increase in the use of electric bicycles, or E-bikes, officials at White River National Forest are reminding riders to make sure they know when the vehicles are appropriate.
According to a news release, E-bikes are allowed only on designated motorized routes shown on the Motor Vehicle Use maps, including National Forest System roads and trails that are open to all vehicles. Certain roads and trails may only be open during specific times of the year.
Additionally, E-bike riders should stay on designated roads and trails that open to E-bikes; minimize wheel spin and avoid roosting around the apex of turns when climbing or brake-sliding during descent, both of which gouge the trail; and drive over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trail.
E-bikes should also slow down when lines of sight are poor, cross streams only at designated fording points, obey all posted signs and respect barriers.
The best source for information can be found on the White River National Forest Motor Vehicle Use maps. Hard copies are available at all forest offices and are posted online at

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Best fall hikes for aspen leaves in Summit County (before they’re gone!)

Courtesy Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

I'd always heard that aspen trees were classic Colorado, that their colors would be awe-inspiring. Humbling. It seems like just yesterday that summer arrived and the aspens started to finally bloom in rich, verdant hues. Now, every fresh morning turns them more rusted, golden. Soon enough, sidewalks, roads and trails will have more leaves than the trees themselves. Fall is rushing by.
For those who feel the urge to be completely submerged in this golden scenery, this hiking guide is for you.


My backpack feels like a ton of bricks as I start a steady climb through thick aspen groves.
These are some of the most thick, burly aspen trees I've ever seen — so thick I can barely clasp my hands around their trunks (insert tree-hugger joke). The aspens closest to the trail are engraved with hiker script.
Within 20 minutes, I break from the trees for views of the parking lot and Lower Cataract Lake. I squint, barely able to make out my car below. There's a brief stretch of open vantage points, then back into a deep aspen and pine forest.
As I walk the trail, I'm kicking up golden leaves. Like ornaments, aspen leaves rest on the boughs of fir and pine trees. It all feels magical, and more so when the wind picks up, sending whispers through the forest.
I descend deeper into the forest, where it becomes heavily shaded, mossy and dank. I choose to take a 1.5-mile out-and-back detour to Eaglesmere Lake. This takes about 35 minutes and brings some decent elevation gain.
Returning to the Gore Range Trail from Eaglesmere Lake, I head towards Tipperary Lake. Surrounding me are plenty of streams, miniature waterfalls and alpine wetlands, dazzling in sunlight. During this section of the trail there are a series of footbridges to skip across — or walk, whatever bridges compel you to do.
Breathtaking views greet me as I descend from the thick woods. I can see unbelievably jagged peaks, with and Tipperary Lake resting just under 10,000 feet. From this point I weave through dense pine forests, shaded by their enormous heights.
After about 1.5 miles I reach Tipperary Lake, surrounded by sheer rock wall and alpine wetlands. I take my pack off at the lake's opening and walk the social trail that encompasses Tipperary. Plenty of colorful fish dance underneath the surface, camouflaged by the tall grass in the water. This is to be my camping spot for the night, and I have the whole lake to myself.
I eat my breakfast looking out toward Tipperary and it is hard to convince myself to hit the trail again. Serious elevation gain greets me ahead as I move toward Surprise Lake some 3 miles away.
There are not many openings for views in this stretch, just the serenity and silence of the aspen and pine forest again. This push is tough, but reaching Surprise Lake is most definitely a reward. I return and the traffic on the trail starts to pick up significantly. Soon enough I've come full circle returning to the parking area near Lower Cataract.
Get there: To access the Surprise Lake, Eaglesmere Loop, enter I-70 and take exit 205 for Silverthorne. From here, hop on Highway 9 and head north for about 17 miles. Make sure to be on the lookout for Heeney Road on the left. I missed the turn — it's hard to pull your eyes from those mountains, most of them unnamed in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness.
Take Heeney Road for about 5 miles to a left onto Cataract Creek Road. The trailhead awaits about 2 miles down this gravel road.


For the first 3 miles or so, the Wheeler Lakes Trail follows the Gore Range Trail with some serious elevation gain. I am thankful to be carrying my daypack for this hike, instead of my 65 liter Osprey.
Not more than an hour into the hike I enter a warm forest of aspen trees. Although there is a high concentration of trees in this section of trail, the wind pushes through. The breeze is delightfully audible.
Dancing and rotating on their stems, the aspen leaves make a sound unlike any other leaf. Perhaps it's their dry, paper-like texture that lends this beautiful sound — as repetitious and soothing as the ocean tide.
The aspens here were bent from the wind, curving toward each other on either side of Wheeler Lakes Trail. For some time I walk the middle of this golden tunnel. It's easy to follow and relatively flat for a change.
I welcome a break in the trees, offering views of Copper Mountain ski area below and the Tenmile Range to the east.
From this expansive viewpoint it's another quarter mile to Wheeler Lakes, and in about five minutes I reach their deep reflections: cumulous clouds resting in a bluebird sky are mirrored in the still, serious lakes.
From this point, it's another 2 miles to Lost Lake and 3 miles to Uneva Pass. I decide the lakes are reward enough and that I'll wait for an Osprey-pack day to reach these upper points on the map.
Get there: This trail is ridiculously easy to access from I-70 and became a favorite summer spot of mine. From the interstate, take Exit 196 at the scenic overlook. There are plenty of parking spaces here to choose from with easy access to the trail.


Even in September clusters of wildflowers run along the trail like a delicate fence. The trail quickly enters a grove of aspens and lodgepole. Like stained-glass windows, the aspen leaves pour golden light onto the trail.
What a stark contrast between the rich blue sky — not a cloud — and the deep, warm hues of the forests. Some of the trees are yellow, others a vibrant red or orange. A few trees are a rare mixture of colors. Meanwhile, leaning in the wind, the lodgepole pines creak like the staircase in an old house.
The Angler Mountain Trail is a jaunt and quickly opens up to views of the Gore Range and Silverthorne. Upon reaching the Ptarmigan Trail, there are opportunities to keep hiking in this WIlderness area for a backpacking stint. That, too, is for an Osprey pack day.
Get there: Also near SIlverthorne, the Angler Mountain Trail is north on Highway 9 for about 2 miles. Turn right onto Bald Eagle Road, and head for about 0.5 miles toward the trailhead, which is on the right.
Length: Roughly 11 miles round-trip (without detours to the Eaglesmere or Tipperary lakes)
Time: About 10-12 hours, depending on experience (backpacking is suggested)
Elevation gain: Roughly 1,673 feet
Length: Roughly 6 miles round-trip
Time: About 3-4 hours, depending on experience
Elevation gain: Roughly 1,408 feet
Length: Roughly 5 miles round-trip
Time: About 2-3 hours, depending on experience
Elevation gain: Roughly 1,200 feet

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hyperloop One coming to Summit County?

Hyperloop One

Summit Daily News Link

What seems like a far-out, sci-fi mode of transportation hit home Thursday as Colorado was named one of the 10 finalists for the Hyperloop One competition to build a vacuum-sealed tunnel that will shoot pods between Cheyenne, Denver and Pueblo at up to 700 miles per hour.
But don't get too hyped about the trip just yet. The Los Angeles firm Hyperloop One, which sponsored the competition, now moves to the next phase where it will invest its own time and resources to narrow down the candidates. Colorado, however, may have the advantage. The company liked Colorado's proposal so much, it announced that it is partnering with the state's Department of Transportation to work on a feasibility study to build the futuristic transportation system anyway.
"Now that we've been named a winner and I'll put air quotes around that, we're setting up the model for a public-private partnership," Shailen Bhatt, CDOT's executive director. "There's a chance that this doesn't come to fruition. But I'm sure there were a lot of people who told the Wright brothers they would never fly. Or transcontinental railroads wouldn't work. We have significant challenges in both public safety, freight and congestion issues and if there's technology out there that can help us solve it, it's our (duty) to explore it."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Iron Springs bike path detour in place near Frisco

#Summit #Colorado

Summit Daily News Link

The Colorado Department of Transportation is temporarily re-routing bike path traffic along southbound Highway 9 near the Iron Springs bypass to the newly constructed Blue Mountain Bikeway.
The Dickey Connector Path will serve as the detour until construction crews complete the remaining bike path, which will travel through an underpass at the north end of Iron Springs.
The detour began on Wednesday, Sept. 13, and will remain in place until construction is completed. During that time, path users should expect to be temporarily stopped by flaggers at times. Temporary detour signs will be in place to guide users.
For additional information about Iron Springs project, call the project information line at 970-401-0901 or email the team at

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Top six drives to see fall foliage near Breckenridge, Colorado

Special to the Summit Daily

Summit Daily News Link

The month of September is one of the best times of the year to visit the High Country when it comes to breathtaking views. An explosion of reds, oranges and yellows from the fall foliage transforms the landscape into an artist's palette. As locals know, the aspen leaves change suddenly and dramatically, and then in the same fashion, disappear. If you blink, you'll miss it.
There are many places in and near Summit County for spectacular fall foliage viewing, and it just depends on whom you ask as to which one is the best.


Elevation: 11,488 feet
Boreas Pass in Breckenridge is an option for phenomenal views year-round, but even more so this time of year. The road is open to vehicles during the summer, or park in the lot and hike or bike up. The road has a gradual ascent to the summit, making it a relatively easy hike. Boreas offers an expansive view of the Blue River Valley and the Ten Mile Range, and also boasts views of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
"Boreas Pass showcases the best of both worlds, panoramic views and tight clusters of golden aspen," said Rachel Zerowin with the Breckenridge Tourism Office. "You can drive the road or explore the singletrack, and both options give you that tunnel feel, with the changing leaves on all sides."
In the late 1800s, early 1900s, the road was used as a narrow-gauge railroad, running from Breckenridge to Como. Closed to motor vehicles in the winter, the gravel road is drivable in the summer with any passenger vehicle. The pass is approximately 6.6 miles one-way, and it's a popular spot for both summer and winter recreation.
General directions: In Breckenridge, follow Main Street to the south end of town (toward Blue River). At the southern end of town limits, turn left onto Boreas Pass Road (also known as County Road 10). Follow road for 3.5 miles to Bakers Tank Trailhead, with parking on the left, or continue on the road to drive over the pass.


In Summit County, the Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway starts at Copper Mountain and travels over Fremont Pass to Leadville, where travelers can take one route to Granite or, to loop back to Summit, follow the extension to Tennessee Pass, through Camp Hale, Red Cliff and Minturn, and back to I-70 East.
"That's a gorgeous drive," said Carly Holbrook, director of public relations at the Colorado Tourism Office. "There's a lot of aspen on that route and a lot of wide-open spaces where you get expansive views of 14ers and fall colors."
General directions: From Summit County, start the Top of the Rockies at Copper Mountain. Take CO-91 South to Leadville. At Leadville, there is an extension that continues south, or take US-24 West all the way to Minturn.


Elevation: 11,542 feet
Distance from Frisco: 30 minutes; 20 miles
A route many Park County dwellers drive every day to get to Summit for work, Hoosier Pass separates the two counties. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass for picture taking, as well as hiking trails for the adventurous.
"The wonderful thing about going to Hoosier Pass is it's one of the highest passes in Colorado that you can actually drive to with a solid road that's paved," said Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, a sales clerk with the South Park Historical Museum and Visitor Center. "You can look over onto Summit County, you can also look over into Park County. Right on the top of that is Montgomery Reservoir. Montgomery Reservoir is a really nice place to go on a short hike — it's not a very difficult hike. It's also a great picture place; they have waterfalls there and you can actually fish."
General directions from Frisco: Follow CO-9 about 20 miles south. The pass straddles the line between Summit and Park counties.


Elevation: 11,670 feet
Distance from Frisco: 1 hour; 39.5 miles via I-70
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway is a 23-mile route through Pike and Arapaho national forest land that links Georgetown and Grant. From Georgetown, about 10 miles of the road is paved, with the remaining 12 to Grant unpaved, according to the town of Georgetown's website. Although maintained for passenger vehicles, slower speeds will be required. Guanella Pass is a less busy tourist destination because the road is rugged, Holbrook said.
Along the byway, catch views of Gray's and Torrey's peaks, both Colorado 14ers.
General directions: Follow I-70 East to Georgetown. Take exit 228, drive to Guanella Pass Road


Elevation: 9,997 feet
Distance from Frisco: 1 hour, 10 minutes; 52 miles
Take a drive through Park County toward Denver along Highway 285 to hit Kenosha Pass. The Colorado Trail crosses the summit of Kenosha Pass, and there are many hiking and biking trails nearby to take in the scene. There is a large parking lot at the top of the pass to stop, but it is super busy this time of year, especially on the weekends, so watch for slowing traffic and pedestrians when getting close to the top.
"This time of year, if you can drive (Kenosha Pass) during off-peak times, is probably the best advice I can give — for any of these drives really," Holbrook said. "If you're hitting them on the weekends, try to go really early in the morning, which is actually really gorgeous for photography if you can hit some of these areas for sunrise."
Directions: From Frisco or Breckenridge, follow CO-9 South toward Fairplay. Once in Fairplay, turn left onto US-285 north. Follow 285 to Colorado Trail, turn right.


Elevation: 10,007 feet
Distance from Frisco: 3 hour, 45 min; 182 miles
The West Elk Loop Scenic & Historic Byway includes the 30-mile Kebler Pass road, and travels through the towns of Crested Butte, Gunnison, Montrose and Carbondale. The route also runs through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park between Montrose and Gunnison. Although a decent drive from Summit County, Kebler Pass boasts major aspen.
"Kebler Pass between Crested Butte and Paonia has the largest aspen grove in Colorado," Holbrook said. "It's probably our most iconic scenic fall drives. You also get McClure Pass on that drive, which is also stunning."
The whole historic byway loop is 205 miles and takes around six to eight hours.
Directions: Follow I-70 West to CO-91 South. Take exit 195 for CO-91 South toward Copper Mountain/Leadville. Take US-50 West to N. Main St. in Gunnison. Take CO-135 North to Co Rd 12.


Travelers looking for a day trip can take a loop to combine Loveland Pass, Guanella Pass and Kenosha Pass. From Silverthorne, follow US-6 East, passing Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and over Loveland, hop on I-70 East to Georgetown, hit Guanella Pass, then Kenosha. From Kenosha Pass, take US-285 back to Fairplay, and hop on CO-9 North back to Breckenridge.
For a less heavily traveled thoroughfare, try Ute Pass Road north of Silverthorne. Follow CO-9 North for about 15 miles from Silverthorne before turning right on Ute Pass Road.
For those looking to stay close to town and get out of the car, Vanessa Agee, marketing and communications director with the town of Frisco, recommends hiking the Perimeter Trail in Frisco. That area has been heavily logged due to the pine beetle, resulting in expanding aspen groves and incredible views, she said.
"The views from the Perimeter Trail and from the top of the ridge are amazing," she said. "First you see Ptarmigan Mountain and the changing aspen there, then you see the area around Wildernest and below Buffalo (Mountain), and then you see views of the aspen below Peak One above Frisco. It was the most broad and expansive view of changing aspen that I have likely ever seen."
Access the trail from the new, paved parking lot at the entrance to the Frisco Adventure Park (intersection of Peninsula Road and Recreation Way).
During the prime leaf-peeping season, “you can't really go wrong with any of the mountain passes," Holbrook said, although that could change quickly with a cold snap or big snow.
Disclaimer: These are generalized directions from Google Maps, and do not include every single turn. So don't get lost and blame us.
Originally published in September 2015 and regularly vetted for accuracy.