The path could be clearing for the reopening of the Catamount Trail in Green Mountain Falls, considered probably the premiere hiking route in the Ute Pass area.
And with a little luck, residents will no longer face continual questions from visitors regarding the fate of this popular route, which takes trekkers to the Catamount reservoirs from downtown GMF in a direct, but safe manner.
The closure of the trail since last summer put a definite damper on hiker traffic, and almost turned the idea of a paid-parking system into an idle gesture. It also created problems for the redoing of trail maps, one goal of a local trails’ ambassador group.
The reopening may also partially end a skirmish that appears to continue between town elected leaders and some members of a former trails committee, who argued against closing the trail down last summer.
The town’s Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee voted recently to recommend to the trustees to reopen the trail. The trustees still have to finalize the action and set the wheels in motion for the Catamount Trail move.
And in the wintertime, the trail is usually not accessible. Although the dry and unseasonably warm weather has changed this scenario somewhat, at least for 2022.
The trail’s reopening was facilitated by the purchase of property by the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation (HGMFF). According to a report, posted by Carolyn Bowers, administrator of the Green Mountain Falls community and political pages, HGMFF bought seven acres of land from Darrel Smith for $120,000.
The town shut down the trail last August due to an apparent property dispute over a section of the popular route.
Efforts to re-route the trail encountered certain logistic problems and may have required a more dangerous route, according to Jesse Stroope, chairman of PRT.
The Catamount trail was orginally constructed years ago, with the help of Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado over a lengthy period as a way to allow hikers to reach the Catamount Reservoirs on the back side of Pikes Peak in a safer manner. Previously, hikers often trekked up the Catamount Falls itself, along a rather informal trail known as the Orange Dot route. But this often caused accidents and led to many falls and even resulted in more illegal trespassing action.
Last summer, the board voted to close the trail, indicating that part of the constructed route, originally constructed, was never quite finalized, or certain processes were not completely pursued by the former trails’ group. But the leaders of this group adamantly deny these claims and question why this property dispute suddenly raised its ugly head.
Trail fights, though, aren’t unusual in Green Mountain Falls. During the pandemic, GMF officials even mulled a plan to shut down the entire GMF trail system. And similar to many areas in Colorado, conflicts over property rights, impacting many familiar trail routes, have escalated.
Regardless of the trail politics in Green Mountain Falls, the route is relished by hundreds of hikers and outdoor buffs annually.