Hawk Ridge Trail

Construction on the new Hawk Ridge Trail, shown in yellow, breaks ground June 1. It connects Mountain View trail, in red, and South Rim trail, in blue, both of which are dog friendly.

The town of Snowmass Village wants community feedback about dog use on a new connector trail in town. A new survey was posted this week on the town’s website and is open through June 23.

The Hawk Ridge Trail breaks ground on June 1 and will connect the popular Mountain View Trail and South Rim Trail via a 0.3 mile stretch on town-owned open space land. This connector was identified as a priority during the 2016 update to the Parks, Open Space, Trails & Recreation (POSTR) Plan. Currently, hikers and mountain bikers that want to pass from one trail to another cut through the parking lot of the Mountain View subdivision.

“Essentially what the Hawk Ridge Trail would do is negate people being exposed to the vehicles that are in this parking lot,” Jeff Kremer told the Snowmass Village Town Council earlier this month. Kremer is the POSTR advisory board chair.

The Mountain View subdivision is subject to a covenant that prohibits residents from owning dogs due to their impact on area wildlife. In meetings with the town, some residents  of the subdivision asked that the Hawk Ridge Trail similarly deny access to dogs.

While council was in support of the new trail design, they were conflicted about banning dogs. Both the South Rim Trail and the Mountain View Trail allow dogs. Council member Alyssa Shenk said the ban would negate the safety measure they are trying to create.

“It presents quite a thing because then if you have people that have dogs … then those people are going to go through the parking lot which is what you are trying to avoid,” Shenk said in a council meeting earlier this month.  

Mayor Markey Butler said that for such a short section, most users would ignore the rule anyway and she surmised it would have a 10 percent compliance rate. She also called a dog ban unfair.

“To me its discriminatory. It’s on town property, it’s on town trail systems, it’s on town land, so I don’t think you restrict dogs,” Butler said.

Bob Goode asked his fellow councilmembers if this would open the door to allowing dogs within the Mountain View subdivision. Kremer responded that in his meetings with residents, people fall into two separate camps.

“There’s a subset that won’t like it and there’s another subset that will insist they be allowed to have dogs. It’s quite a little political conundrum,” Kremer said.

The council approved the building of the trail, but is holding off on the regulations pending the results of the community survey, which went live Monday.

The four-question survey asks how likely the respondent is to use the trail, if they are hikers or bikers and if they think leashed dogs should be allowed on the new section or not. It also asks if residents work in Snowmass Village or live in Mountain View. The findings are scheduled to be presented to council on June 17.

The trail’s groundbreaking is June 1, National Trails Day, in a volunteer effort led by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association. The town has budgeted $4,000 for the June 1 work day, and $25,000 overall for the trail improvements. It should be ready for use by the end of summer, according to Starr Jamison, parks & trails manager.

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.