Remembering the ‘greatest,’ the Vail Trail |

Remembering the ‘greatest,’ the Vail Trail

I read with nostalgic regret Scott Miller’s farewell tribute to The Vail Trail in Friday’s Daily. Just wanted to add my thanks.

I have The Vail Trail to thank for bringing me to the valley and providing a good chunk of my local edification when I was hired in an attempt to fill Miller’s rather large loafers back in 1992. Under the tutelage of then editor Allen Best and a savvy, capable staff of do-it-all reporters, I managed to defer indefinitely a more traditional book schooling along the Front Range while earning an informal masters in mountain recreation.

Along the way, I somehow managed to learn enough about writing and photography to parlay the experience into my current position as a staff writer and Outdoors columnist for The Denver Post.

As former co-worker Tara Flanagan stated in the story, a good chunk of the credit goes to publisher Allen Knox for “letting us fill the pages [and many of our working hours] the way we wanted.” But while the playful and creative working environment during my tenure at The Vail Trail helped establish the paper’s style and undeniable charisma, the publication was far from frivolous.

While the Vail Daily of that era remained focused on promoting daily drink specials, Best channeled his staff’s energy during the Trail’s peak into many of the meatier issues that still challenge the valley today.

More than the journalistic instincts of their respective editors and publishers, the rise of the Daily and demise of The Trail ultimately may serve as a reflection of a community more interested in a good time than a good story on the environment, affordable housing, land management or the unforeseen impacts of rampant growth – topics that Best still covers with incomparably keen insight.

In addition to Best and Flanagan, I had the opportunity to work with several of the valley’s top journalists and most inspired talents through the years. Joe Donnelly went on to serve as editor of the L.A. Weekly in Los Angeles. When he isn’t working for his wife, David O. Williams is the driving force behind one of the valley’s best Web sites,, which he co-founded with another former Trail editor, Tom Boyd, who doubles as one of the region’s most motivated freelance writers. Don Sidle’s editorial cartoons are without peer in any ski town publication, and beyond.

From editors and writers to photographers and page designers, the list of talent is too long to mention everyone who contributed through the years. But the relationships forged with those co-workers and the community we covered every week are what I appreciate most now that all is said and done.

Although it had its faults, I think it’s safe to say that no Vail Valley publication likely ever will recreate the mix of enterprising news, entertaining features and clever social commentary that once was “Vail’s Greatest Newspaper.” My sincere thanks goes out to all who provided the opportunity to be part of it.

Scott Willoughby


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