Divide trail users poach signs for hiking momentos

Reid Tulley
Teresa Martinez of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition replaces trail markers along the trail after the original signs were stolen.
Photo courtesey of Headwaters Trails Alliance |

Directional signs along the Continental Divide Trail near Tabernash have been disappearing, according to Maura McKnight, executive director of Headwaters Trails Alliance.

It is the assumption that people have been obtaining the signs, which feature the Continental Divide Trail logo, to serve as mementos. But the missing signs have been causing some hikers to get turned around on the trail, according to McKnight.

Luckily, Headwaters Trails Alliance is involved in a partnership with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to maintaining and protecting the trail, which spans 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada.

The coalition’s Executive Director Teresa Martinez, traveled to the Junco Lake area, where the signs were reportedly missing, to inspect the trail with McKnight.

Missing signs is something that plagues the entire trail system, according to Martinez.

“This happens trail-wide,” Martinez said. “It just impacts people in an unfortunate way when it happens in such a critical area.”

After locating from where the signs were taken, Martinez begin making new markers using wood blocks and a branding iron donning the trail’s logo.

Martinez chose to replace the signs with branded trail markers for two reasons, the first being people often don’t like to see plastic signs along trails while they are hiking in the backcountry, and the second to try to deter anyone else from taking the trail markers.

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition actually sells signs that are similar to the ones found on the majority of the trails for only $3, though they don’t sell the branded trail markers, making the new signs a unique aspect of the trail in the area.

Signs can be acquired from the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s website at, or by visiting the Headwaters Trails Alliance headquarters in Fraser, where McKnight keeps a stash of the signs.

McKnight said she appreciates the partnership Headwaters Trails Alliance shares with the coalition and that she is looking forward to completing work on the trail in the upcoming summer.

National Trails Day takes place the first Saturday in June, though McKnight plans to organize another trails day the last weekend of June for the Grand County area because often there is still snow covering the majority of the trails on National Trails Day.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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