SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s going to be one of the busiest summers yet for popular hiking trails around Colorado. Land managers for the Quandary Peak area plan to meet Tuesday to finalize short-term solutions to the overcrowding.
“I mean, literally, I see people just jump out, they park right in my driveway,” said David Pfau, a resident of Summit County.READ MORE: Mom Fights With Insurance Company To Get Disabled Daughter Wheelchair
Pfau owns the home directly across the road from the Quandary Peak trailhead. He’s lived there since 1991 and has seen things change drastically.
“People are always in a rush, get out of the car, go hike a 14er, and they’re so excited they don’t necessarily realize they’re parking in a driveway,” he said.
Pfau is a professional photographer and had no qualms documenting the dilemma. From lines of cars parked along his street and even in his driveway, to an increase in search and rescue operations, Pfau has seen it all.
“Well, being the house right at the trailhead we get a few more knocks than most people do,” he said. “The addition of porta-potties helped, but they still get messy because people are human, and so we’ll get knocks like, ‘It’s just too messy to use,’ and we’ll you know, just open the door. Ten years ago, I was a little angry about it. I’ve kind of learned to let things go now. I’m happy to see people hiking,”
Pfau has been patient, but is in favor of some of the short-term solutions especially when it comes to safety.
“Highway 9 has become the superhighway. People are bombing up and down that,” he said.
Another neighbor living near the trailhead has also had first-hand experiences with overcrowding and is pleased there is work being done to address it.READ MORE: MSU Denver Offers COVID Vaccine Incentive With Scholarship Drawing
In an email to CBS4 Jeff Grabham wrote; “I have faith in our elected officials and their outside consultants to make the best decisions for our community. I know that they have been hard at work to identify sound remediations. It has been nice of them to include the neighborhood in some of their meetings and conversations. They began to recognize in the last meeting that parking is merely the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow you will certainly hear other issues addressed: uncontrolled campfires/illegal camping, driving speeds, and other nuisance-related concerns. There are lots of stakeholders involved. It is a complex issue. We are but one group to consider in your story. Management of a heavily used trail network is a common concern in many mountain towns throughout Colorado. The Quandary/ McCullough conundrum is fairly comparable to concerns in Golden or Nederland or RMNP or Aspen or… you pick.”
Summit County is one of many land managers for the area which include Quandary Peak, McCulloch Gulch and Blue Lake Trails. It has been working with consultants for more than a year to address the issue.
“It’s such an awesome thing to have an accessible 14er in our backyard for someone who’s never done that before,” said Christine Zenel, Resource Specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails. “You have to balance that with its popularity and how that’s impacting public safety in the area, how it’s impacting the quality of life of the residents there.”
Summit County along with the Town of Breckenridge and Blue River, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Springs Utilities will talk about establishing a short-term plan Tuesday.
“That might look like more education, more volunteer rangers this summer, probably more signage. You can expect more restricted parking,” said Zenel.
The long-term plan is still in the works, but stakeholders will be monitoring crowds this summer closely.
“So putting a monitoring program in place to understand when we might reach the threshold of getting Into a shuttle system, getting into a reservation system.”
Zenel said while nothing has been set in stone, it’s possible with the expected increase in crowds, a shuttle system could be in place at some point this year.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Denver Moves Focus From Quantity To Localized, Targeted Population
“People are working on this issue, and we’ve been working on it. and you can expect changes this summer, then also father down the line. So it’s something we’re gonna be monitoring for years to come,” she said.