With large number of mule deer already moving in, Sage Hills trails will close Dec. 1

Chelan County PUD photo of mule deer in the foothills in early spring 2020.

The Sage Hills trails system outside Wenatchee will close for the season Dec. 1 as a large influx of mule deer moves in, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust reported.

The closure is expected to last until April 1, depending on weather conditions.

The trails are closed annually to provide habitat for wintering mule deer.

“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, which owns about 960 acres in the heart of the Sage Hills. “The first mule deer count showed about 20 percent more deer than normal for this time of year.”

The land trust reported heavy use of trail systems throughout the region again this year.

Also extremely busy this year were U.S. Forest Service trails in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

The Forest Service said it has begun closing gates to roads used by four-wheelers.

Last week, Little Wenatchee Road No. 6500 and Ranger Road No. 7701 were gated.

The Forest Service warns people not to attempt to drive around the gates.