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‘It really is shocking’: More than 60 miles of illegal trails found at one Colorado Springs open space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- Parks officials from El Paso County, Colorado Springs, and the U.S. Forest Service Pikes Peak Ranger District are issuing an impassioned plea to hikers: Stop making illegal trails.

The City of Colorado Springs says it found more than 40 illegal trails made just at Red Rock Canyon Open Space alone.

The city's park rangers recently completed some mapping of the open space and found that there are more than 60 miles worth of illegal trails, doubling the amount of legal trails. Those illegal trails vary in length, anywhere from a couple of feet to long stretches.

"It really is shocking to see how many trails are around that should not be there," said Scott Abbott the city's regional parks manager.

The biggest concern from officials is not necessarily people who may veer off trails, but rather people who are bringing shovels out to the parks and digging trails of their own.

"People are actively using hand tools to build trails illegally," Abbott added.

Trail users say they are seeing it too, and not just at Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

"There are people just kind of crossing these big swaths of like untrammeled land and stuff like that, which is kind of lame," hiker John Collier said.

Abbot said that heavy rains and frequent traffic can take a toll on trails, which is why some are often closed for rehabilitation and revegetation.

But, there is significant signage on many of the trails, telling people where they can and can't be. 

"They do a pretty good job of using logs to kind of direct people away from those areas," Collier added.

Abbott adds the best way to make sure you're on the right trail is to plan ahead. That includes going to the trailhead to map out a hike so you have a better understanding of the area.

"It's something we really need to get a handle on now and do what we can to take care of our open spaces," Abbott said.

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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