Steamboat Parks and Rec seeks new off-leash area to replace Blackmer Trail |

Steamboat Parks and Rec seeks new off-leash area to replace Blackmer Trail

Steamboat Springs Animal Control Officer Jennifer Good thanks a dog walker for keeping her dog on a leash in May 2017 on Blackmer Trail. (Photo by Scott Franz)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The search is on to establish a new off-leash trail for dog owners and pets as off-leash dogs will no longer be allowed on Blackmer Trail beginning Jan. 1.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the issue at its Wednesday, Nov. 15 meeting and will address off-leash trails again at its Nov. 28 meeting.

On Wednesday, the commission’s leading contender for a replacement to Blackmer was the Blue Sage Trail — a proposal that is no longer under consideration in light of the trail’s proximity to city public works and water operations. Another area under consideration is Stehley Park.

At a glance

The following areas allow dogs off leash permanently and under the city’s trial program:

  • Rita Valentine Park
  • Whistler Park (seasonal restrictions in some areas)
  • Spring Creek Lower Pond
  • Lower Spring Creek Trail
  • Butcherknife Trail (time of day restrictions)
  • Blackmer Trail (off-leash no longer allowed after Jan. 1)

For maps and more information about seasonal and time restrictions, visit the city’s website at

Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said staff hoped to bring more options forward at the meeting later this month.

The Parks and Recreation Commission also expressed interest in creating a fenced dog park at Rita Valentine or Bear River parks. The concept is in the very preliminary stages, and the city would need to work out several kinks in the proposal, including funding and concerns from neighbors in some of these areas.

Kyle Bond, district wildlife manager at Colorado Parks and Wildlife, has said fenced dog parks are the agency’s preference because dogs frequently don’t stay on a trail.

“Dogs scatter,” he told the Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday. “They’re naturally curious, so I don’t see a trail as being conducive or appropriate for an off-leash area.”

Fenced dog parks reduce the chances of conflict between dogs, humans and wildlife, he said. He explained that should an animal enter a fenced dog park by jumping the fence or entering a gate, owners would have a greater chance of seeing the animal, leashing their pet and avoiding conflict.

The Parks and Recreation Commission had hoped to recommend a replacement for the Blackmer off-leash area to Steamboat Springs City Council in time to get it approved before Blackmer was removed from the trial program. Cosby said that’s still the hope, but the commission might struggle to meet that goal.

Cosby reiterated that dogs will no longer be allowed off leash on Blackmer Trail at the end of the year. The trail was slated for removal from the city’s off-leash trial program after concerns for conflict between dogs, wildlife and people.

“Please keep an eye out for wildlife,” she said. “Starting Jan. 1, it will no longer be an off-leash area, so please recreate in that area with your dog on a leash.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.