A Summer of Open Trails and Renewed Access Thanks to the SB 58

Ashley Hanlon Ashley Hanlon
June 06, 2024

As Colorado bursts into its vibrant summer season, the promise of outdoor adventure hangs heavy in the air. But with this anticipation comes the question of access. Land closures due to liability concerns have cast a shadow over some beloved trails, particularly some iconic "fourteeners" - Colorado's mountains exceeding 14,000 feet. Thankfully, a recent legislative victory offers a ray of hope: Colorado Senate Bill 58 (SB 58).

“Essentially, it provides greater protections for private landowners who allow public recreation on their property,”

explains Kendall Chastain, Conservation Senior Manager at Colorado Mountain Club.

“It lays out specifically what they need to do to be in compliance with the law.” 

The Challenge: Uncertain Access and a Dampened Summer Spirit


For many Coloradans, summer means lacing up their boots and hitting the trails. However, recent years have seen an increase in closures on private land, particularly some routes leading to the summits of fourteeners. Several closures stemmed from a 2019 lawsuit against the Air Force Academy, raising concerns about landowner liability. 

Helping preserve or maintain outdoor recreation access as it relates to conservation has always been a goal of Colorado Mountain Club, whether that's through trail maintenance or our Snow Ranger education programs,"

says Chastain.

“We would often partner with private landowners and do things like provide hiker education, conduct user surveys, and install signs.”

But without more clarity around liability in the event of an injury, landowners remained wary of allowing access.

Enter SB 58: A Brighter Outlook for Summer Exploration

February 2024 saw the passage of SB 58, a bill specifically aimed at addressing these concerns. SB 58 amends the Colorado Recreational Use Statute (CRUS), a law that protects landowners who offer free public access to their land for recreation. Here's how it impacts your summer adventures:

  • Clarity and Certainty: SB 58 clarifies the language around landowner liability. This provides them with a clearer understanding of their legal standing when allowing public access, potentially leading to the reopening of previously closed trails.
  • Reduced Burden: The bill simplifies signage requirements for landowners. Previously, overly complex signage created confusion and placed an undue burden on landowners. This revision streamlines the process, encouraging them to grant access more readily.
  • Modernized Activities: SB 58 updates the CRUS to include more modern recreational activities like trail running, paragliding, and backcountry skiing. This ensures these activities fall under the protection of the statute, potentially leading to increased access opportunities for these growing sports.

A Brighter Future for Colorado's Trails


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