Black Forest Preservation Plan - Trails Addendum


Black Forest

  Ellicott Valley 


Highway 94

South Central



Ute Pass



to the


Adtopted by the El Paso County Planning Commision on June 15, 1999


This Trails Addendum provides planning for a network of non-motorized, multi-use trails within the Black Forest Planning Area. These trails will be linked to the Regional Trail System as outlined in the El Paso County Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space, and the City of Colorado Springs Open Space Master Plan. The Trails Addendum is intended to provide guidelines to developers for establishing trails within new subdivisions as well as elicit the cooperation of existing residents for trail access across private property without compromising existing land uses and privacy.

Informational elements of this document begin in Section A.2 which provides reasons for a Trails Addendum. Issues, opportunities, and constraints are identified in Section A.3 to aid understanding of the complexities of developing a trail network throughout a large region. Guidelines for property owners, developers, and planners are presented in Section A.4. The map in Section A.5 shows existing and proposed trails. Finally, Section A.6 identifies committee members who generously volunteered their time and talent to prepare this document.

The purpose of the Trails Addendum is to establish guidelines for the development and coordination of a network of multi-use, non-motorized neighborhood and community trail systems within the Black Forest Planning Area. These trails should be designed to integrate with the proposed El Paso County Parks, Trails, and Open Space Regional Trail System, where appropriate. Trails will serve to maintain and encourage the outdoor lifestyle that residents of the region enjoy and want to preserve as well as possibly provide alternate modes of commuting as our vehicle traffic continues to increase. Some can also serve as migration corridors for the benefit of wildlife. Developers can be encouraged to reserve unbuildable land, such as drainages and floodplains for use by the Trails System. Finally, the Trails Addendum, as the first of its kind, may provide a model for other El Paso County Topical and Small Area Plans. As such, it will improve the quality of life for people, and help preservation of wildlife, as well as make use of natural features of the land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat.


Although encouragement to provide trails has been a part of the Black Forest Preservation Plan since 1974, few new developments included non-motorized trails in their plans. Also, many trails in older subdivisions had been abandoned and fences built that closed other trails. In addition, many changes have taken place in the County Planning Area including a new master plan for trails and open space, and new funding sources. More definitive language and guidelines for trails are necessary to keep the Black Forest Preservation Plan current and reflect the goals of our growing population.

In early 1998, the Black Forest Trails Association requested the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners to appoint a committee to draft a Trails Addendum to the Black Forest Preservation Plan. That committee was appointed by the County Commissioners and convened on April 28, 1998, at the Edith Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest. The committee (see Section A.6), held 14 meetings throughout the year. All meetings were open to the public with advanced notifications of the meetings posted by the El Paso County Planning Department. On February 21, 1999, the finalized draft addendum from the committee was submitted to the Planning Department for posting on the County web site and inter-governmental and public review and comment. In addition, a public meeting to provide copies of, brief and receive comments on the addendum was held for Black Forest Residents. Comments from all these reviews were addressed by the Committee and appropriate changes incorporated. On Jun 15th, 1999, the final draft was presented to the Planning Commission for approval and incorporation in appropriate planning documents.

Section A.3.

A.3.1. Trails Integration

Creation of a coarse network of regional trails, and the connection of regional trails with local trails serving rural residential areas, are primary issues for trails integration.

The 1997 El Paso County Parks Trails and Open Space Plan provides an excellent framework for a regional trails and open space system which will link County parks with other outdoor recreational opportunity areas within the Black Forest Planning Area. County trails also provide connections to trails and open space areas outside the Black Forest Planning Area. At present, this system exists largely on paper and trail locations are not precisely defined.

Creation of a fully integrated, non-motorized trail system is an opportunity to be a model for successful trails planning throughout the entire county. A high level of community interest and leadership in Black Forest will contribute to the success of the effort. To date, a number of community and local trail facilities have been developed, planned, or at least are available as corridors awaiting specific trail alignment or clearing. Challenges to full implementation include funding constraints, physical barriers, and complex existing land ownership and development patterns. The local system is by no means itself complete or fully integrated and, in any case, will not be fully viable unless the framework of a regional system is implemented.

A.3.2. Roads as Trails

While unpaved roads may continue to be part of a trails network, they cannot continue to be the main opportunity for non-motorized trail use.

Traditionally, many Black Forest residents have relied on a high percentage of unpaved roads as a surrogate equestrian, bicycle and pedestrian trails system. Factors precluding continued reliance on unpaved road as surrogate trails include population growth, increased traffic, safety concerns, and road surfacing policies prompted by air quality regulations and Department of Transportation objectives for maximized traffic flows.

Opportunities to use roads as trails include: 1) limiting the number of roads that are hard-surfaced and integrating these as a permanent part of the trails system; 2) accommodating trails within road rights-of way; 3) offsetting the paved surface of new roads within the right-of-way to allow space for a trail along one side; 4) increased right-of-way width; 5) design of shoulders to be used as trails, and 6) incorporation of trails into easements adjacent to roads.

Hard surfaced roads are not amenable to integration with a non- motorized trail system. Through roads, such as Black Forest, Vollmer and Shoup Rds., which may be most desirable for connecting park facilities or with regional trails, also carry the most motorized traffic.

A.3.3. Trails in new subdivisions

Inclusion of non-motorized trails in new subdivisions is an effective way to provide an expanding non-motorized trails network.

There are no formal land dedication requirements for trails in subdivisions, but many developers recognize the demand for trails and the enhanced land values in subdivisions with trails.

El Paso County Parks emphasizes regional park and trail facilities. In most cases subdivision park dedication requirements translate into only small amounts of land and the County Parks Department ordinarily favors accepting fees in lieu of land in order to maximize their revenues for regional facilities and to limit their maintenance responsibilities.

Thus, if a large, well-integrated trails network is to be created, it must come largely from efforts by the private sector. Because new development in the Black Forest often occurs in a discontinuous and not fully predictable pattern, often within a framework of existing development, it is not reasonable to rely entirely on new development to achieve a functional integrated trails system.

New developments provide good opportunities to effectively and cooperatively identify and provide for trails. Compared to years past, the County and State have better policy and regulatory tools with which to assist property owners in accommodating trails, limiting liability, providing for signing and assuring that facilities are kept open and maintained.

Allowing only exclusive use of trails for residents within a subdivision is difficult to enforce and does not realistically recognize the connecting function of trails. Reconciliation of the desires of the residents of a particular subdivision for exclusivity with the external desires of the larger community for connectivity may be an issue.

A.3.4. Trails in older subdivisions and existing neighborhoods

Lack of trails, or closure of trails specified in covenants (but often not shown on subdivision plats), are two major issues for trails in older subdivisions and existing neighborhoods.

Existing road and utility corridors may provide opportunities for connecting trails though previously developed areas. Proper placement of fences on property lines, rather than within the road right-of-way, may provide space for trails if the road is not centered in the right-of-way. Voluntary fence setback, or fence removal, would also provide space. There are many opportunities to incorporate trails into and through existing subdivisions on a voluntary basis.

The use of conservation easements is becoming more common in the planning area. This trend presents both an opportunity and a constraint depending on whether trails are an allowable use within the easement.

Trails have been incorporated into the approval of older developments, but this has not been accomplished within the context of a comprehensive planning framework. I

nclusion of trails as part of the subdivision process is preferable to retrofitting trails with individual owners after subdivision has occurred.

While some developments include excellent trails facilities, those associated with others are not functional or were never set aside in the first place. Nonfunctional trails result from many factors including lack of maintenance, legal and illegal closure, and physical barriers.

A.3.5. Networking with Government and Trails Organizations

Trails planning and implementation will be most successful if supported by many organizations.

Considerable progress has already been made in the past decade for trails planning and implementation in the Black Forest area. An active coalition has been formed which includes the Black Forest Trails Association, the Trails and Open Space Coalition for the Pikes Peak Region, the County Parks Department, other County departments and several developers and neighborhoods.

Coalitions are critical for effective access to, and use of, funding resources including those provided through Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA21). Recognition of the importance of trails for community, safety, and as alternatives to motorized transportation in county wide and small-area plans, is an opportunity to strengthen these coalitions.

At present a constraint is that many of these coalitions are somewhat informal, short-lived, or dependent on volunteers.

A.3.6. Funding

Funding for trail education, implementation and maintenance is critical.

Many opportunities exist for trails funding. These include GOCO and TEA21 as well as Colorado State Trails . Both of these options allow an area to essentially compete for discretionary funds on the basis of the worthiness of a project rather than on a pure formula basis. Preference is given to projects which involve leveraging and partnerships.

The relatively competitive nature of the process creates a high standard for project acceptance. Projects also need to be "ready to go" before they will be funded. It is also clear that sources of funding should always be expected to be insufficient to meet total demand, thereby making prioritization an important and difficult process.

A.3.7. Trail Maintenance

Trail maintenance is important for trail beauty and safety, and for public acceptance of trails as desirable. Where trails have not been maintained, they tend to become closed to public use.

The County Parks Department already does an excellent job maintaining the existing County Regional Trail System. It will continue fulfilling this responsibility as the Regional Trails System expands throughout the County.

Local trails maintenance has been accomplished on a largely ad-hoc basis through neighborhood associations, the work of developers, and area-wide volunteer efforts. There is an opportunity for a significant portion of trail maintenance to be accomplished effectively through coordinated volunteer "adopt-a-trail" efforts.

A.3.8. Trail Education

Education of the public on the value and proper use of trails will contribute to the success of a non-motorized trail system.

The physical presence of trails, and the presence of trail users, are viewed with apprehension by some property owners. Most evidence shows that well-planned trails enhance property marketability, and local trails foster a sense of community, help deter crime, and do not necessarily conflict with privacy.

Within this context there is a continuing concern with conflicts involving trails users who are not aware of trail etiquette and limitations, or do not choose to abide by reasonable rules. Because of the diversity of users, trail education can be expected to be a continuing need.

A.3.9. Trail Design

Trail design is important for safe, attractive, low-maintenance trails.

Standards for effective trail design have been developed in many places in the United States and other countries. In the Black Forest area, tread width, distance from fences and cut or fill slopes, vertical and horizontal clearance, properly marked road crossings, and separation of horse trails from other non-motorized uses (where possible) are important aspects of trail design. Articulation of standards should be pursued. Application to specific areas (forest, grassland, hillslopes, wet areas) is an important element in trail implementation.


This section is the primary applied portion of this Trails Addendum to the Black Forest Preservation Plan. The goals, policies and proposed actions, which follow, are intended to guide the review, administration, and implementation of trails decisions within the planning area in nine key areas:

    1. Trails Integration
    2. Roads as Trails
    3. Trails in New Developments
    4. Trails in Existing Neighborhoods
    5. Networking with Government and Trails Organizations
    6. Funding For Trails
    7. Trail Maintenance
    8. Trail Education
    9. Trail Design

A.4.1. Trail Integration

Create a County Regional Trail and Open Space System that serves residents of the Black Forest Planning Area, and allows residents to integrate neighborhood trails into that system.

Support completion of the County Regional Trail and Open Space System in Black Forest.

Proposed Actions
Refine and establish the regional trail system through the Black Forest with the assistance of its residents and cooperation of the Development Community. (See map, Section A.5)

The Black Forest Trails Association should help the County Parks Department identify and map primary trail corridors in the Black Forest Planning Area.

A.4.2. Roads as Trails

Integrate unpaved roads and trails adjacent to paved roads into the trail network.

Support the DOT in creating the most conducive and safe means for transportation throughout the Black Forest.

Strongly encourage the DOT to consider the impact on the area's present and future trails when choosing dust abatement alternatives in Black Forest. Proposed Actions

Provide a minimum 10-foot trail area along all new neighborhood roads in compliance with the County Road Surfacing Policy. This trail area will be platted as a public DOT non-motorized, shared-use easement when outside the road right-of-way. Public access within these easements will be protected by the County.

Support creation of a county-wide bicycle plan that identifies appropriate transportation corridors within Black Forest, then direct the DOT to add bike lanes on the identified roads as additional right-of-way is acquired, major road reconstruction is undertaken, and transportation enhancement funding permits.

Incorporate guidelines for trails along neighborhood roads as well as guidelines for offset roads into all relevant DOT policies, manuals and guidelines.

Adopt best management practices as county guidelines for the pruning and removal of trees in the road right-of-way, in order to make room for trails on right-of-way of existing roads.

Trails In New Developments

Provide neighborhood trails that can ultimately connect to the regional trail system for all new developments.

Protect trail easements recorded on plats and in covenants from closure through County action.

Encourage trail and public rights-of-way specific to: 1) the regional trails; 2) mapped trails in the planning area; 3) trails in adjacent and nearby neighborhoods; and 4) intra-development connecting trails.

Locate trails in areas that serve a multipurpose function and limit the impact on future property owners. Locations that may be considered but are not exclusive to trails are: utility easements, section lines, property lines, drainage ways, flood plains, preservation and conservation areas.

Proposed Actions
Include and protect trails on plat plans and by covenants.

Indicate all trails on plats and in covenants as open to all non-motorized trail users.

Provide trail easements to allow convenient, non-motorized travel throughout the entire subdivision. For example, trail easements could be located along interior roadways as well as around the entire development with at least one interior trail connecting to the perimeter trail. Ultimately, each new development should design a trail system that best fits its natural topography and the needs of its future users, while remaining sensitive to the concerns of adjoining property owners.

Encourage developers to meet with appropriate community members and adjoining property owners to review and discuss all aspects of proposed development plans before finalizing them for County consideration.

Indicate that all trails are open on the plat plans and in the covenants, as long as watersheds are protected from defoliation and erosion and wildlife trails and corridors are preserved for wildlife. At a minimum, there should be one designated open trail that allows users to traverse a neighborhood to reach an adjoining neighborhood or trail.

Encourage developers of business parks and commercial property to include a network of trails in their development plans. This network should also connect to surrounding neighborhoods and follow the policies stated above. A.4.3.g. Install signage on all trails to help insure that users stay on them. A.4.3.h. Revise County Planning Regulations to require new, rural, residential subdivisions not suited for sidewalks, to include a system of public, shared-use trails. Regional park fees should not be waived when fulfilling this County requirement. A.4.3.i. Recommend that the County actively support all platted trail easements by protecting them from closure, thus ensuring the continuity of a subdivision's planned trail system for perpetuity.

Trails In Existing Neighborhoods

Recognize the value of trails and the important role they play in the daily lives and the lifestyles of all residents in existing developments. Trails are safer than roads for non-motorized uses. Trails help deter neighborhood crime. Trails encourage social interaction and create tighter-knit communities.

Encourage residents to enforce and follow trail covenants and existing plat plans that include trails to ensure continuity of the trail system.

Encourage neighborhoods with trails to connect to the identified trail corridors (see map, Section A.5) as well as trails in adjoining neighborhoods.

Encourage residents in neighborhoods that do not have trails in their covenants or plat plans to create a local trail system.

Proposed Actions
Coordinate, between the County, residents, and homeowners associations, to work together to review plat plans of older subdivisions to identify and reopen abandoned trails and closed easements to ensure a complete trail system.

Establish a "Neighborhood Trail System", supported by covenant and legal documentation. These trails, established by residents and homeowners associations, may be located on unpaved roads, along interior paved roadways, on utility easements, and section lines, as well as in drainage ways, floodplains and preservation areas for minimum impact on property owners and wildlife.

Indicate all trails on plats and in covenants as open to all non-motorized trail users.

Install signage on all trails to help ensure that users stay on them.

Support local trail associations' educational efforts to educate existing developments of the benefits of trails (i.e., safety, crime reduction, social interaction, property value, etc.)

Establish a tax rebate program, supported by the County, for landowners who allow trails easements on their property. These easements can either create a connection to the Regional Trail System or create an open trail that allows an adjoining, existing development access to the Regional Trail System.

Networking with Government and Trails Organizations

Improve ongoing communication between government agencies and trails organizations to increase the likelihood of project coordination and the ultimate success of those projects.

A.4.5.1. Promote an information-clearing house which government officials and trail advocates can access, to find each other and access project updates.

Proposed Actions
Increase the opportunities for communication and cooperation among County Parks, Planning, Transportation, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and all other appropriate county departments and state agencies to work together for trail development within the county.

Ensure that trails are entered into all the appropriate transportation plans of local, regional, state and federal agencies.

Utilize volunteers to create and maintain a current database of appropriate local, regional, state and federal government agencies as well as trail organizations. The information should include the contact person, address, phone, and the organization's focus. It should also include the status on key local, regional, and state trail projects. The County Parks Department should assist this effort.

Make information available to all interested landowners, developers, and citizens from the database to help facilitate trail development.

Funding for Trails

Obtain the funding necessary for the County to acquire and maintain regional trail corridors.

Develop County programs that financially support the development of trails.

Support increased County funding for trail development.

Encourage the County to apply for private and government grants to fund trail development.

Proposed Actions
Increase County Parks' overall budget, thereby increasing the amount earmarked for regional acquisition and development.

A.4.6.b. Identify opportunities to establish public/private partnerships to facilitate new trail easements on private land.

A.4.6.c. Investigate all funding sources and apply for those that are appropriate to finance trail projects.

Form public/private partnerships whenever possible to increase the number of grants for which the County would be eligible.

Utilize volunteers to work on fund-raising campaigns so that the County can raise the matching funds required to receive most trail grants.

Direct the County Department of Transportation to apply for transportation enhancement funding to implement a county-wide bicycle plan that identifies appropriate transportation corridors within the Black Forest.

Trail Maintenance

Preserve well maintained, clean trails important to the area's ecology and which add to the enjoyment of living in the Black Forest.

A.4.7.1. Encourage ongoing cooperation between government organizations, homeowners associations, trails organizations, community organizations and landowners to keep trails clean and in good repair and free of noxious weeds.

Proposed Actions
Organize, with the help of the Black Forest Trails Association, an annual Community Trail Day each spring to: 1) control and repair erosion; 2) repair and replace trail signs; 3) pick up trash; and 4) trim tree limbs to provide overhead and side clearance. Volunteers would also investigate and report on any recently closed trails.

Travel the trails each Fall to pick up trash and identify key project areas for repair during the next spring. Members of the Black Forest Trails Association should organize these trips.

Organize an adopt-a-trail program for ongoing cleanup of local trails. The Black Forest Trails Association should organize these groups. County trails will remain under the county adopt-a-trail program.

Trail Education

Foster trails education as the foundation for developing, maintaining and protecting a trail system in the planning area.

Support a comprehensive educational program for landowners and trail users of all ages that promotes the development of trails and their proper care and use.

Proposed Actions
Create a speakers bureau which will develop new and utilize existing printed materials, and institute a local media plan to help eliminate misconceptions and educate the community about trails. This should be done in cooperation among the County Parks Department, the Black Forest Trails Association, the Black Forest Land Use Committee, the County Department of Transportation, and the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

Identify liaisons to work with the Black Forest Trails Association, the Black Forest Land Use Committee and government officials in support of trails.

Name a trail coordinator, from homeowners associations with trails, who will educate and work with residents in their neighborhood to protect and maintain trails and encourage their proper use.

Educate school students about proper trail etiquette by using every opportunity to work with local schools.

Trails Design

Accommodate both the needs of wildlife and non-motorized trail users (including but not limited to walkers, joggers, hikers, off-road bicyclists, equestrians, and cross-country skiers) in the design of trails in the Black Forest.

Encourage trails that add to the general quality of life in Black Forest through their organized placement and natural dirt.

Proposed Actions
Design the optimum trail system in a subdivision, whether new or existing, to allow users: 1) to travel from their homes to a desired location by choosing among a variety of connecting loop trails that may be located between property lines, on other existing easements, along roads, in designated open space and any other areas deemed appropriate. 2) to connect to trails in neighboring subdivisions, which could exist now or may be built sometime in the future. 3) to connect to the County Regional Trail from their homes.

Ensure that trail easements are at least 20 feet wide to safely accommodate the variety of non-motorized users who may choose to utilize them.

Retain the existing natural dirt base, for the trail itself, to keep the character of the surrounding environment and eliminate construction costs as well as benefit the needs of the most varied number of users (walkers, joggers, equestrians, cross-country skiers, wildlife, etc). Trail erosion has not been a problem in Black Forest, as evidenced by popular, well-used neighborhood trails that are at least 20 years old. These trails are primarily used by area residents, not the entire County, as is the case on regional park trails.

Ensure that when the County constructs a surfaced trail, a parallel track be identified and left natural for those users who benefit from a softer, natural base.

Place trails located along roads within treed areas on the north and west sides of the road, whenever possible, to allow sunshine to melt ice and snow off the trail.

Mark all trails with signage to help ensure that users stay within the designated trail easement.

Consider the potential impact of trails on the adjoining property owners when a neighborhood locates a trail along the adjoining property line of another subdivision. If warranted, the impact may be mitigated by landscaping, the use of topography in trail placement, and any other reasonable means that would address adjoining landowners' concerns.

Direct land developers, land planners, County Staff, homeowners associations and Black Forest residents to design trails that will provide the most benefit to resident users and wildlife.


The El Paso County Master Plan for Parks Trails and Open Space (1997) and the City of Colorado Springs Open Space Master Plan (1997) each refer to and outline a future vision of a Pikes Peak Regional Network of parks, trails and open space. The Black Forest Preservation Plan Area makes up a significant portion of the County Master Plan and it should be referred to for greater detail. Planned trail corridors (as of mid-1997) are indicated on the Regional Planning Map, along with planning for specific trail routes, as recommended in the master plans.

Regional Trails
Ongoing Efforts During the course of this Addendum Study for the Black Forest Preservation Plan Area, a number of specific ongoing planning efforts have been identified. These efforts are continuing by both City and County Parks staffs and trails advocacy organizations, such as the Trails and Open Space Coalition for the Pikes Peak Region, the Black Forest Trails Association and others. The efforts are specifically directed in the areas of: 1) proactive work with private developers, 2) use of conservation easements for open space planning and potential trail corridors, 3) Department of Transportation plans for new highway corridors and modification of existing public roadways, and 4) work with private property owners in reopening existing trail easements.

Future Implementation Plans
The regional plan for trails is not a single effort, but a series of implementation projects over the course of the coming years. Each of these projects must meet the tests of: 1) be part of a master plan, 2) form partnerships for funding and implementation, and 3) obtain public approval and support. Examples of projects affecting the Black Forest Area, and shown on the Regional Planning Map, include: 1) the Black Forest Section 16 Partnership, and 2) the Jackson Creek Trail Segment from Fox Run Park to the New Santa Fe Trail. Each of these have resulted in planned trails presently scheduled for funding and implementation. Projects also included are the completed segments of major Regional "Spine" Trails: the New Santa Fe Trail (north/south), the Pikes Peak Greenway, and the Rock Island/Midland Trails Systems (east/west). A number of others are in the planning stages, i.e.: the Powers Boulevard Interchange with La Foret and Skyline Trails, and trail easements through several new developments in both city and county jurisdictions. These are all shown on the included regional map as completed trails, or as broad Regional Trail Corridors. The Addendum Trails Corridors Map is attached as Figure 5.1.


The following residents and supporters of non-motorized Trails throughout the region gave their time and talent to develop this Trails Addendum to the Black Forest Preservation Plan:

    * Erv Perelstein, Chairman
    * Cal Utke, Vice Chairman
    * Juel Kjeldsen
    * Karen Laden
    * Arthur Lapham
    * Sherrie Oram-Smith
    * Amy Phillips
    * Ruth Ann Steele
    * Kay Stricklan
    * Dave Watt

* = Appointed voting member by the Board of County Commissioners

The following interested citizens also participated;

    Barbara Hosmer
    Iris Mosgrove
    Judy von Ahlefeldt
    Susie Witter

Other Key Contributors

    Joe Salute, Planning Commission Liaison and committee secretary
    Carl Schueler, Planning Department Liaison
    Jeff Brauer, Parks Department Liaison
    Dave Watt, Department of Transportation Liaison

On behalf of the residents of the Black Forest Planning Area, the Trails Addendum Committee wishes to thank the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, Planning Commission and Planning Department for their support in developing this Trails Addendum. As the first of its kind in El Paso County, we hope to have provided the model for Small Area Comprehensive Plan support of the County's Regional Trails System.

Erv Perelstein, Chairman
May 18, 1999

Copyright 1997 - 1999
El Paso County, CO


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