Ecosystems shifted from high desert to forest and back to high desert in the blink of an eye. The southern side of the mountain featured an array of forests with trees exhibiting every imaginable shade of green. The northern side served as a reminder that this is the southwest.
That’s the surroundings of trails leading to Battlement Reservoirs, and they’re the norm in the western Garfield County town of Parachute.
Imagine walking out your front door to find a new hiking trail. That could become reality in Parachute. Already, the town is full of trails for hikers, cyclists and all-terrain vehicle users. But the town’s employees are at work to create a recreation corridor to capitalize on the surrounding natural beauty.
Three miles of hiking trails, an ATV trail and five reservoirs invite visitors and locals alike to venture away from the county’s better-known attractions.
“Hanging Lake has its appeal,” said Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur. “But if we can get people up here, there is still plenty to do and see.”
Summertime highlights the contrast in the coloration of trees, but these hidden trails don’t yet draw the foot traffic residents believe they deserve.
“I had a co-worker that literally had no idea how to get here,” said Lauralee Patton, who works in economic development at Town Hall. “It’s not really used as much as it should.”
Those trails are 10 miles from Parachute Town Hall, and their accessibility is part of why they aren’t better used. McArthur and his economic development team hope to improve that in the future.
“Right now we are concentrating on vehicular traffic, making it more accessible and getting people up to the top and back down,” McArthur said.
He and other town officials continue to contemplate how to draw more people to the area, whether that be through a shuttle system or adding more parking lots along the way.
Regardless of the solutions, one thing is clear: Area residents believe these trails are too beautiful not to be seen by Parachute, Battlement Mesa and people throughout Garfield County.
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