Breckenridge opts for creative trail etiquette signage amid surge in local trail use

This trail sign, created by Breckenridge resident Nikki LaRochelle, is one of several animal-themed signs the town of Breckenridge will place along local trails in hope of improving trail etiquette.
Photo from town of Breckenridge Open Space & Trails

BRECKENRIDGE — After seeing an increase in crowds this summer, the town of Breckenridge is taking a fresh approach to trail signage in hopes it will help improve trail etiquette among various user groups.

Anne Lowe, the town’s open space and trails manager, said the town brainstormed ways to get people’s attention by being “lighthearted, visual and different.”

The town then leaned on Breck local Nikki LaRochelle, a commissioner on the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission, to draw the creative signs. LaRochelle, an accomplished artist and athlete, combined trail etiquette messages with illustrations of animals.

Lowe said the new signs are especially neat in that they’re meant to be relocated periodically to different trails, something the town hasn’t tried before. Lowe said moving the signs could help because recreationists often become accustomed to signage on trails. In essence, the town hopes the signage with the cute animal visuals will get users to turn their heads and read whatever message the town wants to convey.

An example of LaRochelle’s artwork includes a bunny rabbit with flowers reminding recreationists to show kindness on the trails. Another, and a favorite of Lowe’s, is a sloth LaRochelle drew conveying the message to ride slow and stay in control.

Lowe said the new signage comes after the town discussed with partner organizations — including the advisory commission, the town’s Welcome Center and the Breckenridge Tourism Office — how to handle the increase in trail use surrounding town throughout the pandemic.

Lowe said she’s just starting to read the trail-counter data at some popular local spots, such as the B&B Trailhead. That trail saw 1,000 users on a recent day this year that saw only 300 people last year. She said B&B, French Gulch and Sallie Barber are a few local trails that have been the most busy.

“Especially this time of year, hikers are coming in to look at the colors, and mountain biking is popular here among locals and visitors,” Lowe said. “I’ve seen, anecdotally, increased use across the board from all different types of user groups.”

Lowe also pointed to numbers at the Isak Heartstone troll, a must-see for visitors. Lowe said 3,800 people visited the troll this past Saturday, which she said might be a record.

“I remember vaguely it going up to 3,000 when the troll was first posted in that location, but this is higher than ever,” Lowe said. “And the following day, 2,800 people (hiked to see the troll), if that is any indication of trail use, in general.”

As for where you might see one of LaRochelle’s new signs, Lowe said to keep an eye out at Barney Ford, Aspen Alley and Minnie Mine.

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