Favorite trails, like well-worn jeans, just feel right.
Sadly, last month's deluge severely damaged many of those favorite trails. Some, such as the Columbine Trail in North Cheyenne Canon Park, are closed indefinitely.
While the trail itself is "passable," there are many other forces at work. The U.S. Forest Service plans to repair the portion of Gold Camp Road that collapsed. With restoration of that nature being done, workers shouldn't have to worry about injuring hikers below them nor should they have to worry about trail users above them dislodging material that could turn into a rock slide. Allowing cyclists and hikers to re-enter the park in certain areas could increase instability and cause more damage.
Here's the problem: There's not enough fencing, signs or enforcement officers to keep determined users off closed trails. And there are some in the hiking and cycling communities who relish civil disobedience. But this is not like hiking the Manitou Incline when it was closed and there was a certain cachet to being one of hundreds of daily lawbreakers. The stakes are higher.
Entering closed areas in North Cheyenne Canon could put others at risk. Let's give the staff at Colorado Springs Parks, Trails and Open Space the time needed to assess and address the danger. Officials have promised to open the parks and trails as soon as it is safe to do so.
Think we have it bad? Officials from Boulder County say some of their trails won't be usable for months, or even years. They estimate it'll cost $25 million or more to repair all the damage to public spaces. Damage estimates in Colorado Springs and El Paso County are considerably lower. The city of Loveland was set to unveil an open space before the floods, but it remains under water and won't open until some time next year. And while most of the trail damage in the Pikes Peak region is spotty and measured in feet, 4 miles of Loveland's Recreation Trail might need to be replaced.
Want to help? Stay out of closed areas, encourage friends to do the same and check out openspacevolunteers.org for flood-related volunteer projects.
Davies is the executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Read her columns on the fourth Thursday of each month in Out There.