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.


  • 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.

   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.

Closures, at an area or site, may be necessary for revegetation and restoration

Climbers ascend a rock face at Canal Zone climbing area in Clear Creek Canyon Park

Noxious Weeds

Noxious weeds are non-native invasive plants that displace native and agricultural plants that wildlife and livestock depend on. Noxious weeds change how water moves through the soil, they change how sunlight reaches other plants and they change where wildlife live. While climbing you may encounter some of these invaders.

An annual cool season grass. It sets seed in the spring and then dries out. The seeds are needle-like and can easily lodge in equipment and clothing.

Chinese clematis
A perennial vine that grows in large clumps and on trees on rocky slopes. Its yellow flowers occur singularly and form fluffy seed heads. When it’s seeding it looks very similar to the native clematis.

Myrtle spurge
A perennial with a thick taproot. Stay away from this one – its sap can cause severe blistering. Climbers will find it on rocky slopes. An escaped ornamental that was originally used as a xeriscape plant, it is moving quickly into drainages and crevices along the Front Range.

Keep It Clean!
Many noxious weeds have seeds that are easily moved by clinging to equipment, clothing or vehicles. Before you leave a site, clean off your gear and put any seeds in a bag and put it in the trash. For every seed you keep from spreading, you prevent thousands more from developing.

For more information visit the Jeffco Invasive Species Management website.