Off-leash dogs again welcome on Aspen’s Smuggler Mountain trail

Staff Report
A woman walks her dog with her mouth and nose covered on Smuggler Mountain Road in Aspen.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

With warmer weather opening other areas, Pitkin County commissioners decided Tuesday to lift leash restrictions for dogs on Smuggler Mountain and two other popular trails.

Commissioner Steve Child said board members have received letters from residents urging them to rescind the mandatory leash restriction especially on Smuggler Mountain, though it also applies to the Hunter Creek Cutoff Trail and Jaffee River Trial in Woody Creek.

The board rescinded those off-leash areas for dogs a month ago because of concerns that dog entanglements could provoke human-to-human coronavirus transmission.

Open Space and Trails Director Gary Tennenbaum said he and the program’s rangers supported the effort to “release the hounds,” though they had seen a high rate of compliance. That may be due to the fact that use of Smuggler by walkers and their dogs decreased almost immediately after commissioners made the rule, indicating that dog owners went to other off-leash areas like Arbaney-Kittle, he said.

Snow is melting quickly and other areas like Sky Mountain Park are opening this weekend, Tennenbaum said.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to clarify Sky Mountain Park opening does not allow for dogs.