Two privately owned Colorado 14ers are open to hikers thanks to a unique partnership. Will it last?

Increasing traffic on Decalibron Trail circling Colorado 14ers Mount Democrat and Mount Lincoln is stressing a tenuous deal with landowners concerned about liability

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
Hikers and crew members from both Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative cross paths on the Decalibron Loop trail accessed from Kite Lake Trailhead on July 12, 2022, near Alma.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

MOSQUITO RANGE — Colorado Fourteeners Initiative trail builder Sarah Barringer looked up from her trail work on the switchback heading to the ridge below Mount Bross. A man was taking a shortcut, causing the kind of erosion that she was repairing.

“Please stay on the trail,” Barringer said.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” the man answered. “It’s a free mountain.”

Actually, it’s not. The top of the 14,178-foot Mount Bross is owned by several people who are worried about liability and do not want hikers on the summit. Owners of the summits and trails leading to next-door 14ers Mount Democrat and Mount Lincoln share the same concerns, worried they could be sued if a hiker is injured in one of the many mine shafts and dilapidated mining structures on the mountains.

Landowner John Reiber, whose father began assembling mining claims on the peaks in the Alma Mining District in the 1950s,  closed the summits of Lincoln and Democrat to hikers in April 2021. But a unique partnership uniting trail advocacy groups, the Town of Alma, the Forest Service and Reiber’s ownership group has forged a tenuous plan that allowed hikers to return to the peaks late last summer. With regular surveys, education campaigns and a bunch of signs warning hikers to stay on the trail and not enter dangerous structures, the effort has helped assuage owner concerns over safety and possibly being sued by hikers who are injured on the peaks or in the century-old mine shafts and shacks.


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