The closure of the parking lot at the Booth Lake trailhead appears to have had the desired effect and will remain in place until October.
The closure, which went into effect on June 2, was imposed to ease user pressure on the trail. The closure of the surrounding neighborhood to trail parking – with fairly steep fines for violators – was made to help keep hikers out of the surrounding neighborhood.
For the past few years, city officials have been discussing ways to make it easier to use the heavily trafficked – and often very trashed – trail. It could take anywhere from a few to several years for the US Forest Service to enforce a reservation system similar to the one in place on the Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Canyon. City officials did what they could – restrict access through the parking lot.
At this time, Vail Mountain School sometimes has parking available, but this availability will be limited once school has started.
School principal Michael Imperi told board members he was concerned about potential conflicts between hikers and people at the school. Not all interactions with hikers are polite, Imperi said. People heading for the trail often cross the school athletic field and many wonder where they can find a restroom. Weekend school activities can complicate parking, Imperi added.
Many hikers use the school parking lot. Imperi said a counter at the parking lot recorded 14,000 cars entering and exiting the parking lot over a seven-week period this summer.
Board member Jenn Bruno said she would like to find money to build a bathroom at the trailhead, as well as a bus for hikers.
“You just have to shut everything down there,” said Jen Mason, a board member, of the parking lot at the trailhead. “If people want to hike, they can take the bus. “
By the numbers
8 120: Booth Lake Trail Users in June 2020
6,020: Users on the same trail in June 2021.
2370: Gore Creek Trail users, June 2020.
1 963: Users on this trail in June 2021.