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Why building illegal trails and using undesignated trails is so damaging to our open spaces

This article was originally published on

The open spaces in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region are vast with hundreds of miles of trails. These trails are designed and built by professional landscape architects who consider not only the enjoyment of all trail users, but also environmental concerns such as wildlife habitat and erosion control. You can spot these trails by the trail markers that help direct you as you run, hike, or bike.

Illegally built trail, Hunters Run

But there are other kinds of trails crisscrossing our open spaces. These are broadly considered undesignated trails. They are not built by the City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department or its partner organizations. We know them by a variety of names, such as “social trails,” “unofficial trails,” “rouge trails” and even “illegal trails.” They are often popular shortcuts or venture into areas where there is no official trail.

There are also instances when new trails are intentionally constructed by unauthorized individuals. This is more than just wandering off a designated trail. It is illegal to knowingly build your own trail in a public open space, and you can be fined for doing so.

As our region continues to grow, it is crucial that we all work together to preserve and maintain our open spaces. One way that you can do that is to stay on official trails. When you do, you are helping to conserve, protect, and maintain the beauty of the Pikes Peak Region.

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