sunnyside

The entrance to the Sunnyside trail is pictured. On Sunday, a man was injured after riding his electric motorcycle on the trail, which is located within the national forest. Sunnyside is not open to motorcycles (of any kind) or e-bikes.

The man who took his electric motorcycle up the Sunnyside trail and had an accident requiring Mountain Rescue Aspen assistance told authorities Sunday he fell into that circumstance due to “bad advice.”

Just who provided that advice wasn’t known, said Sgt. Levi Borst of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Borst answered the call on the incident that came in around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

“I don’t know anyone who would tell him to take an electronic-assisted motorcycle on the Sunnyside trail,” Borst said. “It looks like a full-size motorcycle you’d see driving down Main Street.”

Because the area where the man — whose name wasn’t released — required assistance falls within the White River National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service will be tasked with follow-up.

The motorcyclist listed a local address, but Borst wasn’t sure whether that was a permanent address. The man wasn’t ticketed by the sheriff’s office.

After crashing the electric motorcycle before Four Corners, the man called for help saying he wouldn’t be able to ride down any further due to a hand injury.

“Mountain Rescue Aspen deployed a team from the Hunter Creek Valley, and made contact with the subject at approximately 4:53 p.m. MRA escorted the subject out of the field. The subject self-transported for further medical care,” the sheriff’s office report says. Six people from MRA were involved with the rescue.

 

National Forest rules

There are roads within the White River National Forest that welcome e-cycles and e-bikes, including Pearl Pass, Kobey Park and Lone Pine off Basalt Mountain, said Shelly Grail, recreation manager for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.

Designated motorized routes may be seen on this map: fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd621542.pdf.

The most visited national forest in the country, the WRNF encompasses more than 2.3 million acres. 

Grail said the agency has seen an “increasing trend” of motorized bikes’ usage on “legitimate trails.”

“I have not noticed their increase on non-motorized trails,” she said.

Technology has advanced to the point where complaints about the electric vehicles’ noise are no longer an issue. In disturbances that involve mountain bikers and e-bikers, “The main issue I hear is the speed,” Grail said. “You can go farther, faster.”

How the forest usage is planned with motorized and nonmotorized sections requires decisions that contemplate the overall impact on experience, said Kevin Warner, Aspen-Sopris district ranger.

Because Sunday’s incident on the Sunnyside trail is still under investigation, the agency wasn’t able to comment on the potential for a fine.

Madeleine Osberger is a Contributing Editor for Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99