Eagle’s Haymaker Trail at heart of town’s open space maintenance projects | VailDaily.com

Eagle’s Haymaker Trail at heart of town’s open space maintenance projects

Eagle's Haymaker trail sees rerouting and possible dusk-to-dawn closure

Riders make their way down Haymaker Trail during the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championship Sunday, Oct. 22, in Eagle. Haymaker is currently getting re-routed for a better ride and less costly maintenance. And soon to be on the Town Council's budget: the possibility of a daily dusk-to-dawn trail closure of the popular trail.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Nestled in Eagle Ranch, Haymaker Trail is beloved among locals for hiking with pets, mountain biking and engaging with nature right in their backyard. Because of its popularity and its wildlife population, the Eagle Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee is spotlighting Haymaker Trail for maintenance and to encourage more responsible interactions with wildlife.

Earlier this month, the Eagle Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee entertained the possibility of a voluntary trail closure from dusk to dawn daily. Voting member Phillip Kirkman said open space programs statewide have established dusk-to-dawn trail closures or something similar. Limiting human activity at night could not only make more room for wildlife but may also decrease management expenses overall. 

“It seems like some (other dusk-to-dawn closures) focused on wildlife and some focused on people management in terms of crime and other stuff that happens on the open space properties,” Kirkman said. 

Despite dusk-to-dawn closure benefits, Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee members discussed how community members may have a difficult time adjusting to new voluntary trail hours should they be implemented, especially those who may not be able to enjoy local trails anytime other than night. 

However, with the wildlife in the area of Haymaker Trail, the Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee landed on seeking “to collect additional data to see if there would be a substantial benefit to wintering wildlife in the voluntary closure would be implemented,” open space manager Brian Lieberman said.

Support Local Journalism

At the Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee meeting, members discussed that should voluntary dusk-to-dawn closure at Haymaker be implemented, the public would have to make some adjustments.

“I think communication is going to be (of) the utmost importance about this,” voting member Chris Kehoe said. “We’re kind of making decisions on the fly and that’s really going to be challenging for the public.”

With these shifts in mind, the Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee will conduct research this winter “to inform future management strategies,” Lieberman said. Though, if research shows that a dusk-to-dawn closure is beneficial to recreation and wildlife management, the committee discussed how the possible nightly closures would be voluntary.

This means enforcement would be based on education and encouragement, rather than hard-and-fast punishments. 

“I would say for the volunteer side of it, it’s a great way of having that peer pressure built and it’s a good way of starting things off. I would challenge to say that (nighttime trail closures are) an eventuality,” Kehoe said. “It’s part of every open space committee across the state.”

The Open Space & Recreation Advisory Committee chair, Ernest Saeger, said he expects a closure like the one in the discussion would take a few seasons for trail hours, should they be recommended to the town council, to get across to the public anyway.

“We would really be starting it this year in hopes that we get the word out,” Saeger said. “You know, we’re not looking for a 100% compliance. Maybe next year it gets better and we continue to work with it, I think that’s where we are really going to find some traction.”

With discussion already on the site, Haymaker trail re-routing is also currently underway. Lieberman said the trail route changes are being made in order to not only improve the trail and its rideability, but to also help reduce its maintenance costs. 

Lieberman said Momentum Trails Concepts has been working on the re-routing project. The company has completed some re-routes along with substantial rebuilds of the lower portion of the Pool and Ice Trail.

“Now, there might be an S turn with some bigger bumps, but it’s going to take you into it,” Lieberman said. “I think overall, these will have a lot of benefits in reducing the trail maintenance requirements and just building a little bit more of a sustainable trail and hopefully still having a super fun riding experience.”

Support Local Journalism