Skis or Snowshoes Only!


Walkers posthole and damage the groomed trails. So disrespectful of other trail users and our volunteer grooming team. !


I’m not talking about trail users in snowshoes. I’m talking about people who walk on the groomed trails in boots. Though I’m fairly certain trail users who follow this blog do not walk on the groomed trails in boots. However chances are you have encountered or will encounter walkers on the trails, so these are some talking points to help you begin a dialogue with them.

As the West Elk trails have become more and more popular over the past couple years, we are seeing more walkers on the trails. Your help is needed to spread the word:

Skis or Snowshoes Only!

The West trails are groomed for skis and snowshoes only. Period. Please do not walk in boots on any of the groomed trails.

Walkers are NOT ALLOWED on any other groomed trails systems anywhere.

Walkers ARE ALLOWED on the multi-use Rifle Snowmobile Trails across the parking lot. Those trails are groomed with a snowcat so they are better packed for boot walking.

Yes, the West Elk trails are located on public land in the White River National Forest, so the public has the right to use them. However our Special Use Permit with the Forest Service (since 2002) combined with the required $700/year for liability insurance absolutely allows us to restrict trail uses during winter grooming season.

For example, our trail Hwy 819 is a road but drivers are restricted from driving on it during grooming season. Also snowmobiles (except those used to pack trails) are restricted from travel on our trails during grooming season. That’s why the Forest Service put up that barricade at our trailhead.

Maybe this will keep trucks off the trail

The Forest Service restricts bicycles on ALL public multi-use trails during winter months.

West Elk trails are packed with snowmobiles and run over with a pull-behind groomer. We do not own a snowcat. Therefore, our trails are not technically “packed and groomed” like downhill ski runs or snowmobile trails.  The snow base is actually quite “fragile” and certainly not solid. Walkers risk serious injury from postholing.

West Elk trails are NOT groomed by employees of the Forest Service. West Elk Trails Inc receives NO funding from the Forest Service. Our volunteer grooming program is what makes it possible for walkers to posthole our trails. Do the walkers contribute?


As the days get warmer, the parking lot gets muddier and muddier. Walkers in boots track mud on the trails. The sun shines on the patches of mud and melts the snow, degrading our groomed trails. Eventually we will have to cease grooming operations because the snowmobiles and the groomer spread the mud everywhere. And the mud is really hard on our machines and equipment. It’s not like we have a hose with running water up there to wash off the mud.

Last season we ceased grooming operations for two weeks because of too much mud on the trails from walkers. And we will do it again this year if we have to.

Mud from walkers' boots left us no choice but to cease grooming operations for a couple weeks in February 2016

Mud from walkers’ boots make a mess. This particular mess left groomers no choice but to cease grooming operations for a couple weeks in February 2016

Ultimately walkers in boots shorten our grooming season and thus our ski and snowshoe season.

So – please – if you encounter walkers on the West Elk trails, educate them about our right to restrict their trail use, point out the damage they are doing to our groomed trails — and then ask them to leave.

Thank you!
Peggy Tibbetts


Show your love for the West Elk trails with your tax deductible donation.

Send checks or money orders to:
West Elk Trails Inc

PO Box 129
Silt, CO 81652

Click here to print West Elk Trails Inc Membership Form


3 Responses to “Skis or Snowshoes Only!”

  1. Friday, March 3 | West Elk Trails Inc

    […] Skis or snowshoes only! […]

  2. Friday, March 10 | West Elk Trails Inc

    […]   Skis or snowshoes only! […]

  3. Saturday, March 18 | West Elk Trails Inc

    […]   Skis or snowshoes only! […]

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