COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Recent mapping efforts in Red Rocks Canyon have counted more than 60 miles of illegal trails which is more than double the mileage of legal trails in this popular open space. The city is working with land management to help minimize impacts of these illegal trails.
“They go by many names. Illegal trails, road trails, social trails, non-system trails…” said Scott Abbott, manager of regional parks, trails and open space at Colorado Springs Parks, Recreational and Cultural Services.
At it’s most basic form, it’s a trail that shouldn’t be there.
“Sometimes it’s exploratory, meandering, across an open meadow,” Abbott said. “Sometimes it’s a shortcut to get back to your car. Sometimes it’s a shortcut because you’re tired. Sometimes people are actually going out there and building trails.”
Colorado Springs Parks and Rec. said more trails emerge each year.
“Our town is growing exponentially. Residents and visitors alike. So there’s more people in these places,” Abbott said.
So, they said they are tackling a plan to spread awareness on the impact these trails have on the public lands.
“This is the home to our local wildlife,” Abbott said. “And these types of trails can fragment those areas that wildlife are trying to have some rest and respite from the day.”
He said this is why they’re using different measures to prevent traffic in these areas.
“We work desperately to try to fill up those areas, close those social trails, rehabilitate them, and try to keep people off of those so they can regrow and go back to being areas that are not trampled,” he said.
Colorado Parks and Rec. said it all starts with assessment.
“We want to see how how damaging this trail could be. So setting some sort of priority list for these types of trails.”
As long as people continue to enjoy the outdoors, Parks and Rec. said they know they will have to continue to be diligent.
“We know that humans are exploratory. We want to go check out the little nooks and crannies and hidden spots,” Abbott said.
This is all so people can continue to enjoy the nature in their backyard.
“We’re trying desperately to protect these places so they can be around for a very long time.”