About half of Boulder County park will stay closed until September due to Calwood fire damage

Public safety threats still exist on south side of Heil Valley Ranch
Heil Valley Ranch burn area
Posted at 6:39 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 13:30:14-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — About half of a park in Boulder County will stay closed through the summer due to public safety concerns and ongoing recovery after the Calwood Fire ripped through the area in 2020.

The Boulder County Commissioners approved a full closure of the Geer Canyon access at Heil Valley Ranch until September 30. This includes the park's two southern trailheads — the Main Trailhead and Corral Trailhead — and the Grindstone Quarry Trail, Lichen Loop, Overland Loop, Schoolhouse Loop and Wapiti Trail.

Wapiti Trail at Heil Valley Ranch

The northern portion of the park, including the Picture Rock Trailhead near Lyons and Picture Rock Trail, Ponderosa Loop and Wild Turkey Trail, are open. These trails total about 11 miles. The Picture Rock Trailhead, which has 25 parking spaces, is often full when the weather is favorable.

Picture Rock Trail at Heil Valley Ranch_Feb 2021_Stephanie Butzer
Minimally burned trees seen on Picture Rock Trail at Heil Valley Ranch on Feb. 16, 2021.

Boulder County Parks & Open Space (BCPOS) staff expect significant impacts to the southern part of the park as recovery from the Calwood Fire continues. This includes hazardous tree removal, aerial mulching, and erosion mitigation. The area could see dangerous flooding and debris flow during the summer monsoon season, which could impact trailheads, roads and downstream communities. The county said as little as 0.35 inches of rain in 15 minutes or 0.75 inches in one hour could cause a flash flood at the park.

The BCPOS staff will focus on early erosion control to decrease storms' effects on the burn area.

After the threat of flooding passes, staff will turn their attention to replacing damaged amenities and park infrastructure. Several bridges, fencing, parking stops and signage were destroyed in the fire. Click here to learn more about the park's recovery plan.

The Calwood Fire began on Oct. 17 and grew to 10,113 acres. It reached 100% containment by Nov. 16 after destroying 26 structures. The Boulder County Sheriff's Office completed their investigation into the fire but could not determine the cause.

Click here for more details and a map of Heil Valley Ranch. Click here to explore other Boulder County parks.