INDUSTRY — While 3 to 4 feet of snow still blankets the hills, it’s not too early to start planning a leisurely spring hike, such as Pico Ridge in Industry.

For the hard-core winter enthusiast, Pico provides a snowshoe jaunt up past a cemetery and through the woods to a scenic viewpoint overlooking Clearwater Lake and the surrounding mountains and hills. For families looking to have a spring or summer excursion, Pico Ridge is the perfect spot to have a picnic and take in the panoramic view to the north and west.

There are actually two Pico Ridges: Big Pico (1,138 feet) and Little Pico (1,040 feet). Big Pico is the one with the aforementioned hiking trail. Supposedly, an Indian maiden named Pico so mourned her dead warrior lover that she leapt off the ridge (Leapoff Place). Little Pico lies nearby.

Thanks to the generosity of local landowners Helen Foster and Betty Wing, the hiking trail is open. Visitors are advised, by ample signage, to stay on the trail and to avoid leaving trash. There is no overnight camping or parking, and no hunting is allowed.

To get to the trail, take Route 43 from Farmington to Industry, and go left on Route 148. The road goes up the hill until it comes to Center Cemetery on the left, where the trail goes uphill and into the woods. Winter hikers should park at the Industry Fire Station about a quarter of a mile beyond the cemetery, taking care to park off to the side so firetrucks can get out in an emergency.

Snowshoers can proceed from the parking area down the road to the cemetery, making sure to walk on the side of the road facing traffic and staying as close to the snowbank as possible.

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After the initial steep climb up the snowbank, the trail proceeds at a more gradual pace up the left edge of the cemetery by the trees. At the top of the cemetery, turn around and drink in the view down into valley and over to Bannock Mountain.

Enter the woods to the left of the sign on the snowshoe track. Stay on the main trail, avoiding any offshoots to the right or left. The trail rises gradually about a quarter of a mile to the height of land.

From this point, make a short, moderately steep descent to the snowmobile trail. Turn left and walk a short distance, turn right and proceed down to the overlook.

The views from here are as fine as any in the area. They encompass Mount Blue, Bald, Jackson and Little Jackson mountains in the Weld area, as well as Clearwater Lake. It is more than worth the minimal effort required to get there. In the winter, the round trip is about a mile.

Signs of animals can be seen, with tracks and droppings scattered about the snow. Depending on the time of year, visitors may encounter fishers, foxes, porcupines, eagles, woodpeckers, birds, moose, bear, bobcat, raccoons or grouse.

Many people who do the hike come back multiple times.

“We’ve had state senators up there, we’ve had the attorney general up there,” said Industry resident Bob Burton, Helen Foster’s husband. He helps her maintain the lower part of the trail, on the land that they own. He said spring and fall are his favorite times to venture into the woods on Pico.

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