Climbing Stewardship

Access to the base of many climbs often necessitates hiking up steep grades that are highly susceptible to erosion. At most of the Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) climbing areas, no developed trails to climbing routes exist. As a result, climbers often unknowingly take multiple paths to access the same climbs. Braided trails result and accelerate the erosive process. Similarly, along the base of cliffs, where the traffic is concentrated, or at very popular crags, social trails can develop and further affect the natural resource.

Active trail management may be necessary to control erosion and the loss of vegetation. In new locations, resource inventories will guide trail design and management to protect any special plant communities, threatened or endangered plants, cliff nesting raptors, or any species that may be adversely affected by the use the access trails.

Guidelines:

  • Climbers should use one main access trail. Keeping in mind that shortcutting causes erosion.
  • Developed access to climbing sites may not meet typical industry standards used for multi-use trail design (access trails may exceed 12% grades).
  • Climbers should stay on designated access trails.
  • Signage may be used to inform the public that access is to “climbing areas” and not a standard multi-use trail.

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Management Actions:

  • JCOS may choose to harden sites at the base of some climbing crags to prevent further erosion.
  • JCOS may formally develop access trails and close social trails to reduce erosion and vegetation trampling.
  • JCOS may install wayfinding signs to promote the use of appropriate access trails.
  • JCOS may implement educational signage to manage unwanted traffic patterns.
  • Creation of, or improvements to access trails is prohibited without consent of JCOS.
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