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Hiking Bob: Green Mountain Falls keeps trails open. Here's how to do your part to keep them open

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In a move that is sure to make hikers happy, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees voted during a special board meeting on Tuesday July 21 to kill a resolution that would have closed all of the town's trails to all users.

According to town Mayor Jane Newberry, the resolution first came about out of concerns about COVID-19. Questions about how to deal with sanitation and social distancing quickly morphed into complaints from residents, especially those who live near the town's popular trailheads, about parking, trash and loose dogs, among other complaints. 

"People had real and legitimate concerns," said Newberry, adding that trash and off-leash dogs were two of the most often-heard complaints. In response, a resolution was drafted that would have closed all town-owned trails. Newberry said COVID-19 is just one in a string of factors that has contributed to an increase in usage — and complaints — on the town's trails.

The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire forced people to look elsewhere to recreate, and much of that was in Green Mountain Falls. More recently, the closure of the Manitou Incline had people looking for other places to go. As the COVID-19 crisis has continued, more and more people continued to look for other trails and started flocking to Green Mountain Falls.

By being a respectful trail user, you and your pup can continue to enjoy hikes like this one in Green Mountain Falls. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • By being a respectful trail user, you and your pup can continue to enjoy hikes like this one in Green Mountain Falls.

In a virtual meeting in which members of the public — all but one of which were residents of Green Mountain Falls — voiced their opinions on the resolution, many also proposed alternatives that were more palatable than completely closing all of the trails.  With only one or two exceptions, the participants were opposed to closing the trails. The few who would have rather closed the trails had well-reasoned arguments to make their case, and they also leaned towards wanting the trails closed as a temporary measure until solutions to crowding could be addressed. 



At least one business owner said he welcomed hikers to the town and his business and expressed concern that the town would have to fight to get visitors to come back if they shut out visitors now. 

In the end, the Board of Trustees — after hearing proposals such as rotating trail closures, or closing the trails entirely, or increasing and improving signage at parking areas and trailheads — voted to keep the trails open and to work towards implementing a volunteer "Trail Ambassador" program. The program, to be developed with the help of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, is aimed at educating and helping hikers.

"Sometimes, education is what is needed," Newberry said. As to why the Board chose to not close the trails Newberry said, "people came to the table with suggestions. My hope is that we can avoid it [closures]. My hope is that people do their part."

So, how do people "do their part?"

Here are some suggestions, based on the complaints heard during the town meeting:



Start by being respectful of the people who live there. In Green Mountain Falls, hikers have to walk down residential roads, through neighborhoods, to get to trailheads. Treat these neighborhoods like you'd want outsiders to treat yours: Be quiet, keep your dog leashed, and clean up after Fido.  Don't toss trash around, and remember that the route you're taking to the trailhead is a road, not a trail. It's how people who supported keeping the trails open get to and from their homes, so don't be inconsiderate and walk four, five or six abreast and block the road. And don't get mad at the driver who asks to get by with a beep of the horn. You shouldn't be blocking the road to begin with, and you wouldn't tolerate it in your neighborhood.

And finally, take a moment to thank the residents for supporting keeping the trails open. Thank the businesses by stopping in and saying hi and maybe buying something. Without the input of the residents and businesses, the trails there may have just as easily been closed.

As always, when traveling, check your destination for any COVID-19 restrictions. Don't become an unwanted burden, especially on small towns.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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