Steamboat has 4 new off-leash dog parks and play areas. Here’s how to get to them |

Steamboat has 4 new off-leash dog parks and play areas. Here’s how to get to them

Raphael plays in the snow at Rita Valentine Park.

It's hard to tell whether it's the dog owners or their dogs who are more excited about the four new off-leash play areas that just opened up in Steamboat Springs.

"The dogs are happy. We're happy. Everybody's happy," Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said Friday as she recalled her recent test runs of the new off-leash areas. "People are thrilled."

Dog owners no longer have to fear getting ticketed for letting Fido responsibly play off-leash on Blackmer Trail, Butcherknife Trail, Whistler Park and Lower Spring Creek Trail.

There are some restrictions at each park and trail including off-leash hours only running from an hour after sunrise to an hour before sunset. Some of the off-leash areas are also only seasonal. View the map below to learn more about the specific off-leash area and where they are located.

At Whistler, there are only certain areas of the park that will be off-leash, and some of the off-leash opportunities are seasonal.

New signage at each park will help dog owners understand the rules and avoid getting tickets for breaking them.

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The signs will also let dog owners know when they are entering and leaving an off-leash area.

And all dogs must be under voice and sight control while they are off-leash.

"We really want this to work," Connell said.

Residents who notice any violations or dogs harassing people or wildlife can file a complaint by calling Steamboat Springs Police Department dispatch at 970-879-1144.

Connell said the new off-leash areas will also come with a new dog safety education program organized by the city and Steamboat Digs Dogs.

Volunteers will soon start walking the trails to help educate dog owners about the rules and remind them that dog owners must also pick up their dog's waste.

The new off-leash areas will be available during a one year trial program. City officials are cautioning dog owners that the new off-leash areas can be taken away by City Council if there is an abundance of complaints or conflicts with other trail users.

More information from the city on each new off-leash trail follows.

Blackmer Trail: Upper Blackmer is off leash year-round. Lower Blackmer carries off leash opportunities during the winter only from Sept. 2 to May 31, and all dogs must be leashed in summer from June 1 to Sept. 1.

Butcherknife Trail: This trail carries restrictions during school hours where the leash law applies from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 3 to 4:30 pm from Aug. 21 to June 8.

Lower Spring Creek Trail: The off leash trail runs directly behind the high school. Outside of designated hours, dogs are to be leashed at all times.

Whistler Park: This area has three designated areas with the park for off leash activities. The west portion is off leash from May 1 to Oct. 31, and leashes are required during the elk winter season from Nov. 1 to April 31. Trail users are asked to remain on existing trails in this section of the park. The south sections will be off leash during the winter (Nov. 1 to April 31) and leashes will be required during the summer (May 1 to April 31). The north portion is off leash year-round.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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