Mt Lindsey near Alamosa is now closed to the public. The closure is over liability concerns. The 14er is now added to a growing list of Colorado mountain trails that is closed for hiking. The state has about 58 mountain peaks reaching 14,000-foot elevations. Most are on public land owned by the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management and are open to everyone to use.
However, at least eight are either partially or completely privately owned. They include Mount Democrat, Mount Lincoln, Mount Bross, Mount Sherman, Mount Shavano, Little Bear Peak, Mount Lindsey and Culebra Peak, according to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.
Recently, the owners of Mount Lindsey posted signs around their property saying that the area is closed to the public.
“Trinchera Blanca Ranch has posted ‘No Trespassing’ signs on the private trail sections on Mount Lindsey as a result of a recent ruling out of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which limited the scope of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Act and increased landowner exposure,” said Trinchera Blanca Ranch spokesman Cody Wertz.
The court case stems back to an incident in 2008. James Nelson and his wife were bicycling on property owned by the U.S. Air Force Academy. Nelson hit a sinkhole, fell off his bike and was seriously injured as a result.
The family sued the Air Force Academy for liability and was awarded approximately $7 million in damages. The case was appealed but recently upheld by another federal judge.
“That case, I think it was more than anything about the Air Force Academy’s failure to warn of this known hazard,” said Mark Squillace, a Raphael Moses Professor of Law at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “An employee of the Academy was aware of a sinkhole on the bike path and didn’t warn anybody about it — didn’t tell his superiors or didn’t warn the public.”
Mount Lindsey is not the first to close off access to the public as a result of that lawsuit. Earlier this year, the owners of Mount Democrat, Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross also closed off access out of liability concerns.
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