Snodgrass access a sign of our community

From probably the first time I rode it, I quickly came to realize there was one major flaw in the Snodgrass Trail: it’s not long enough. Whichever way you start, there’s some good uphill followed by a fantastically beautiful and flowy downhill. The smooth singletrack traversing thick foliage, wildflowers, mountain views and aspen groves is a mountain biking wonder in a place known for its mountain biking. There are of course other great local riding trails — 401, Doctor’s, Meander, The Gunsight Connector, Baxter’s, the list goes on. But Snodgrass is an old school classic and that is in part because of the ethic that helps make this place what it is…we collaborate. It doesn’t always come without disagreement and tensions, but collaboration and compromise are not dirty words in this valley. That is a blessing.

Some of the best of the Snodgrass trail flows through private property as it hits the Washington Gulch side of the mountain. The Allen Family Ranches have for years generously allowed bikers and hikers to use the trail on their property for the early part of the summer season until they bring their cattle to the property. That time has once again arrived as Snodgrass will close this Sunday at sunset.

Let’s remember that the Allen family is under no obligation to allow thousands of strangers to cross their land. But they have done so for decades and it is important that the users of that trail respect their request to now avoid that area. Their cattle will instead use the area to fatten up and it is easier to do so without mountain bikers whizzing through the herd every five minutes. It seems a fair request and a great deal given the joy Snodgrass can provide basically between May and the end of August.

Snodgrass is not the only trail demonstrating collaboration between recreationalists and private landowners. Baxter’s has sections that go across private property. So does Lupine and the Deli Trail. Green Lake and a section of Tony’s do as well. Think about the steep Long Lake hiking trail and the Bridges trail near the Upper Loop and Whetstone Vista. But through the efforts of passionate individuals and organizations like CBMBA, the outreach efforts to use trails not solely on public land continues. Similar efforts are successful in the winter with nearby Nordic trails as well. 

There is the promise that the users will respect the private property and not trash the place and for the most part, that has held true. Of course, there are always a few bad apples that think they are entitled to anything that is in front of them. They aren’t. Entitlement is the rotten core of any community and unfortunately, we can all smell more of it on all sides here of late. Entitled attitudes risk losing much of the good access we have to high mountain treasures here in the North Valley. 

Both not being afraid to argue but also being willing to collaborate is a hallmark of the valley. There is real effort to figure stuff out and honestly, it’s not always pretty. But it works. Snodgrass is but one example of that working. So is the current plan to eliminate mining on Red Lady while protecting recreational access to the Bowl so those winter ski tracks can continue to look over town. So is trying to figure out the best ways to keep workers living in affordable homes near their jobs. So is using the public RTA bus system to help get students from CB South to the school. So is the voluntary no-float period on the Upper Slate River to protect herons that are nesting. So is taking concrete action to not ignore climate change in a place that directly relies on a snowy winter for much of its life. 

Collaborative ideas can certainly lead to loud disagreements, but in the end, we as a place usually try to collaborate to keep moving forward. That all comes with communication, with respect, with compromise. To me, Snodgrass is a shining example of that. Thank you to the Allen family.

So, the Snodgrass trail will be closed for the season as of this Sunday. It’s another sign of the waning summer. If the connection between community collaboration and a mountain bike trail is too much for you, ride or hike it anyway before Sunday. It will clear your mind and make you forget the line at the Post Office. Consider it one of the many blessings of our valley. Snodgrass is worth it. The only thing that might disappoint you is that it’s not long enough. 

—Mark Reaman

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