Trail Talk: Be nice, share the trail, and respect all trail users

Keep things friendly and courteous on the Snowmass trail network

Brandon Hawksley
Special to the Snowmass Sun
Nika Meyers, left, Denali Barron, and Barron’s son Rowan, 1, hike up Tom Blake trail for an afternoon wildflower hunt in Snowmass on Monday, June 28, 2021. The two are locals and hike, bike or run the Tom Blake trail a couple times a season. Tom Blake reopened on June 21 after closing for elk calving season. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The COVID-19 pandemic is hopefully behind us. However, the amount of people using our trail system continues to grow at an astronomical rate. Over summer and fall 2019 there were approximately 17,000 trail users on the South Rim Trail from May 1 to Nov. 1. Over summer and fall 2020, the South Rim Trail use rose to approximately 50,000 users.

With a drastic increase in outdoor recreation stemming from the pandemic, people are seeking out more opportunities to get outside. In turn, reports of trail conflicts also are increasing.

Here are a few suggestions to ensure that you and everyone you may encounter on the trail are all enjoying the same amazing experiences while out on the trails.

ALL uphill traffic has the right of way

Trail users traveling uphill on trails always have the right of way. Find a safe spot to step off the side of the trail and allow the uphill traffic to pass. Remember to be nice and say hello. If you are traveling downhill on trails, always stay in control and watch your speeds — especially when approaching blind corners.

Follow trail traffic laws

Bikers yield to hikers, and hikers and bikers yield to equestrian riders. Horses are easily spooked, so always approach with caution and ask the horseback rider for best options for passing safely. They know their horse better than anyone and can instruct you on the best way to pass.

Be trail aware

If you like to wear headphones while hiking or biking, be sure that the volume is low enough that you can hear your surroundings. Also, make sure to read all signage before hiking or biking on trails. You do not want to find yourself going the wrong way on a directional trail. It could be very dangerous for both you and the people using the trail in the proper direction. There are two main directional trails in Snowmass Village: Deadline in Sky Mountain Park and the Discovery Trail that begins at the top of Fanny Hill.

Mind your pets and keep pups leashed

All dogs should always be kept on leashes when using Snowmass Village trails. This not only helps to preserve the natural beauty of the trail it also keeps your pet safe and in control.

Please pick up your dog’s waste and be sure to dispose of it at trailhead trash cans. Do not leave your poop bag on the side of the trail for someone else to deal with and do not throw poop bags off the sides of the trail. It is your dog, and it is your responsibility to pick up after them. This is a problem that has drastically increased in the past few years; please leave the trail as you would want to see it on your next hike or bike.

Also, be sure to keep dogs on dog-friendly trails only. As a reminder, there are no dogs allowed on Hawk Ridge Trail near Mountain View nor on any of the trails in Sky Mountain Park.

Be nice and help fellow trail users out

Everyone is getting out on trails to enjoy the natural beauty of Snowmass Village; be polite to one another and say hello. As visitation continues to grow in Snowmass, you will encounter more people who may be using this trail system for the first time.

Send them in the right direction and give them some “local” insight on our trails. A local recommendation goes a long way and could make or break someone’s vacation. We are lucky to have this amazing trail network in our backyard and it can seem overwhelming to someone who does not live here, so help them out! If you are new here and see one of our trail specialists out and about, stop and say hi!

Free bike bell program

Stop by the Snowmass Village Recreation Center and pick up a free bike bell to alert other trail users of your presence. Trail etiquette pamphlets also are available for the taking.

Trail of the month: Discovery Trail to Village Bound

We are fortunate to have a diverse network of trails that can accommodate all user groups. Each month, I will highlight a specific trail in our network for you to explore on your next trail adventure.

The Discovery Trail to Village Bound route is a great option to enjoy before a Thursday night concert. This trail begins at the top of Fanny Hill and climbs up the west side of the ski area before topping out on Dawdler ski run. This 2-mile climb provides the opportunity to learn about one of the largest ice age fossil discoveries in the world.

There are three kiosks located along this trail that explain in detail the unearthing of over 5,000 ice age fossils in Ziegler reservoir during a construction project in the fall of 2010. The views of the reservoir and Snowmass Village will not disappoint. This is a an uphill-only trail for bikes, so hikers can enjoy a trip back down Discovery without any downhill interference. Bikers will love the 2.3-mile descent down Village Bound, which returns to the same point on Fanny Hill where Discovery Trail begins.

Snowmass Village’s new Parks, Open Space and Trails manager Brandon Hawksley in Town Park on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun)

Brandon Hawksley is the Parks, Open Space and Trails manager for the town of Snowmass Village. He writes the Snowmass Sun’s “Trail Talk” column, which runs on the third Wednesday of the month throughout the summer in the Snowmass Sun.