A recent biking accident on the Sluice Trail in Clear Creek is a harrowing reminder for people engaging in recreational outdoor activities in the county to pay attention to and heed posted trail signs.
A 17-year-old was in an accident on April 10 on the Sluice Trail in Clear Creek while mountain biking with his father. According to reporting from 9 News, the father believes his son tried to swerve to miss two hikers on the biking-only trail and crashed, resulting in a traumatic brain injury.
Clear Creek recreation facility manager Jon Butcher said the county had efforts to increase trail signage underway even before the accident.
He explained that “social trails,” or paths people create off the main designated trails, could be responsible for hikers being on the bike trail.
“There are some social trails, not designated trails, that intersect the Sluice,” Butcher said.
According to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, the event is still under investigation and no charges have been filed.
Undersheriff John Stein explained that there can be legal consequences for not following posted signage on trails.
“If someone violates a posted sign or other rule, regulation or order issued on public property, it is usually a violation of CRS 18-9-117 UNLAWFUL CONDUCT ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. Other offense violations could be Reckless Endangerment (CRS 18-3-208), Assault in the Third Degree (CRS 18-3-204), or Criminal Mischief (18-4-501) for acts that like “trip wires” or nails/tacks on biking trails,” Stein stated.
Butcher went on to say that people using the trails in the county and beyond should always obey posted signs, for their safety and the safety of others.
The Sluice Trail is a directional mountain biking trail where bikers can reach high speeds, making it dangerous to be on the trail in other capacities, according to information from the county.
“There's a very clear trail at the bottom of the trail that says do not enter,” Butcher said.
Butcher said this is the first accident on the Sluice Trail that he has seen.
The county issued the following statement in response to the accident:
"Our thoughts and well-wishes are with the person and family involved in this accident. People come from all over the country to recreate here in Clear Creek County and we want to ensure people are safe while out on our trails.
"The Sluice Trail is downhill, mountain bike only. Hiking is not permitted on this trail for the safety of hikers and mountain bikers. We encourage people to check signs, and online applications such as COTREX and AllTrails before heading out. On these apps, people are able to see the rules of each trail and what type of recreation is allowed on each. We also encourage people to check, and even take a photo of trail maps located at kiosks before going on trails. Those will not only help you when it comes to directions, but also consist of the rules for each trail including what is, and is not allowed on each trail. Again, we are hoping for the best for those involved in the incident."