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Comprehensive trail map - Telluride, CO

Local leading effort to collect all marked routes in one place

  • Special Thanks Justin Criadomap

A draft of the regional trails map Joan May is organizing. (Courtesy image)

When it comes to regional trails, some are harder to find than others. Whether it's a printed map or online, it often requires cross-referencing in order to find a proper route.

Local Joan May has recently spearheaded an effort to create a comprehensive map that showcases all of the region’s marked trails.

The former San Miguel County commissioner presented the idea to the Telluride Open Space Commission during its virtual meeting Monday afternoon.

“Joan has suggested to several people, entities and groups this notion that we would have a regional trails map that would be handed out to tourists and on town websites that shows the designated trails in the area, and does not show the social trails,” Telluride Program Director Lance McDonald said in introducing the work session item. “ … We don’t have many designated trails in our open space, but this is an opportunity to participate in a larger, regional effort to communicate to visitors, primarily, as far as where these trails are. … The (trail) descriptions are pretty general. It talks about system trails. I think that the open space commission can support this type of an effort, and if there are some financial implications, we should look at providing some financial support, if you agree with it, as long as the other partners are contributing as well.”

May added that only trails with specific trailhead markers would be included on the map, which would help people visiting the area better navigate the region’s extensive trail systems.

“Sometimes it takes a really long time to come up with a simple idea, but I think the simple idea is we have one hiking trails map for the whole region. The audience for this would be visitors. The idea would be not to try to get rid of everybody’s maps, but rather that we would have one map for our region that would be for concierges, visitor centers, sporting good stores that all the entities agree these are the trails we’re recommending for visitors,” she explained. “The visitor to Telluride has really changed dramatically over the last year, not so dramatically over the last several years, and sending people off on trails that don’t have markers gets them lost and destroys the landscape. There are enough trails around here to send people to trails with trail markers and not get them lost. That’s my opinion.”

The county, towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, U.S. Forest Service, Sheep Mountain Alliance, and Telluride Mountain Club are all in support of the map, May added.

“I’m excited that there seems to be some support for the idea,” she said. “(The Forest Service) is really dealing with a lot of public land damage. I’m not trying to imply that people shouldn’t go on anything that’s not an official trail. I’m just saying what we’re presenting is a specific map of specific trails.”

Sheep Mountain Alliance Executive Director Lexi Tuddenham called a map of this sort a “necessary step to limiting those impacts and educating our visitors and keeping them safe.”

Calling the map draft she’s been presenting “an OK start,” May added that the next step would be to overlay all current regional trail maps in an effort to have them in one place. Local map designer Tor Anderson would handle the work, she said, at a cost of $1,000.

While the open space commission didn’t consider or vote on a specific amount, members were in support of providing funds for the project, as long as other local entities contributed as well. Commission member Nancy Craft suggested the open space group oversee the writing and editing of the trail descriptions. The scope of the project was also briefly discussed.

“How big should this be? There are clearly hundreds of trails, but how many of them do we want to point out? How do we work together to reach that kind of a decision?” said Todd Brown, the Town Council liaison.

May will continue to pursue funding, as well as submit a formal proposal to the open space commission, moving forward. She envisions the first iteration can be shared online this summer, and changes can be made throughout the year, if necessary. Long-term plans also include a print version of the map.

“I don’t mean that this is the solution to all of our trail issues. There are all kinds of things that can be done, but this is just one little step,” she said.

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