Sage Hills trails system will close for four months starting Wednesday, Dec. 1, to provide winter sustenance and quiet rangeland for mule deer and other wildlife. The area will re-open for outdoor recreation around April 1, 2022.
The first snow has arrived at higher elevations, and mule deer are already moving into their winter refuge in the Wenatchee foothills, said Von Pope, senior wildlife biologist at Chelan PUD. The first mule deer count showed about 20% more deer than normal for this time of year, he said.
Chelan PUD owns about 960 acres in the heart of Sage Hills. It manages Home Water Preserve as a wildlife preserve as required by its federal license to operate Rock Island Dam. Winter closures are a condition of the permitted seasonal trail use. This is the 15th winter closure.
“Over time, we’ve seen fewer reports of winter trespassers in recent years,” Pope said. “We are grateful for the community support. It takes all of us working together to be successful.”
Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and the City of Wenatchee also close public access to trails on over 2,200 acres of open space adjacent to PUD property to provide additional winter range for mule deer. The seasonal closure affects the Sage Hills and Horse Lake trail systems.
People are encouraged to use the Apple Capital Loop Trail, Saddle Rock, Lower Castle Rock, and the Jacobson Preserve trails. The main gravel road up Dry Gulch is open to hikers, however all side trails are closed for the winter. Please leash your dogs and clean up after them.
"We saw continued high use of our local trails by residents and visitors alike in 2021," said Hanne Beener, Trails Program Manager at Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. “This closure is an important part of responsible stewardship for this trail system and the open spaces protected for the benefit of both wildlife and people," Beener said.
Check the Land Trust’s website for all closure information. Wenatchee Valley TREAD’s website and app, TREAD Map, are also good sources of updated information on closures and trail conditions year-round.
For more information contact Von Pope, Chelan PUD Wildlife Program manager, at (509) 661- 4625, or firstname.lastname@example.org; CDLT Trails Program Manager, Hanne Beener, (509) 667-9708, or email@example.com; or the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Wenatchee District Office, at (509) 662-0452.