Snowmass trail talks: Sharing our space with wildlife |

Snowmass trail talks: Sharing our space with wildlife

Town of Snowmass Parks and Trails Department
Special to the Snowmass Sun

Editor’s note: The Snowmass Sun and the town of Snowmass Parks and Trails Department have partnered to launch “Trail Talks,” a bi-weekly series that will explore trail issues, etiquette and rules for shared trail-use in the village.

As spring approaches, many local trails at lower elevations become free of snow and a temptation for outdoor enthusiasts. However, we must continue to respect the wildlife closures.

Trails are an integral part of our natural environment and can be used as a tool for conservation. They assist with preserving important natural landscapes, providing necessary links between fragmented habitats and tremendous opportunities for protecting plant and animal species.

Increased development has contributed to the creation of habitat “islands”— isolating wildlife, reducing their natural habitats and survival. Trails provide that important link between these island populations and habitats and increase the available land to many wildlife species.

Surrounded by acres of pristine wildlife habitat and winter ranges, we are lucky to share these open spaces with wildlife. Winter range gives wildlife a peaceful place to negotiate winter conditions, and local elk herds use the Upper North Mesa parcel and North Rim Trails for their winter survival. Intruding on these areas during these critical months’ forces them out of this essential habitat, this is why area closures are in place.

As a reminder:

When are the closures? Trail closures begin Dec. 1 and trails will re-open on May 16. The Burnt Mountain Closure begins April 25 to make way for calving season and re-opens June 21.

Which trails are closed? North Rim Trail, Seven Star Trail and Sky Mountain Park are currently closed to protect winter range for wildlife.

Where can I go? South Rim, Lowline, Highline, Brush Creek, and other trails are available to you year-round. Visit our wildlife closure map online at for details.

There is a zero tolerance policy for trail closure violations and fines can reach up to $5,000. Trail closures are strictly enforced by the town’s animal services division in partnership with Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Wildlife monitoring cameras are in use in closed areas.

Thank you for your understanding and respect of wildlife.

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