Trail signage can feel pretty redundant and banal most times, but hey, so are street signs. Do we need anything more than a green background and white text to let someone know which crossroads we’re meeting at? The same could be said for the white-lettered and brown-backgrounded signs posted at trail intersections or the hiker/biker/horse triangles.
With that in mind, the trail etiquette signs placed around Breckenridge, Colorado definitely stand out. They feature original artwork commissioned by the town’s park and open space department, and are posted around area trail systems as a reminder for users to be courteous to one another. The town placed the signs about two years ago.
“Well, I think for our program, we’re always trying to educate — about proper trail ettiquette which is a goal of our program and making sure everybody’s being nice on the trail,” said Tony Overlock, Breckenridge’s Open Space and Trails Supervisor. “And, basically, how do you catch people’s eye and actually have them read something? How can we create something that has an educational focus, but yet kind of light-hearted and fun that actually people might read, or remember and take with them.”
Anecdotally, they seem to be making an impression. People post them on social media or note them on the trail. Breckenridge hired local artist Nikki Larochelle to design the images and they were incorporated about two years ago. The Open Space and Trails department rotates the signs throughout the trail system to keep them fresh and they are also strategically placed on certain trails.
Breckenridge has a growing number of fantastic bike-optimized, directional trails, but on some multi-use trails with fast, open sections, you might see a picture of a greyhound telling you to “chillax.” There are different signs designed for different user groups.
Overlock hopes they make a difference but it’s hard to tell for sure.
“It’s so hard to measure something like that, you know?”
But if trail users haven’t noticed, other land managers and groups have. At conferences around the state other districts have mentioned their fondness for the signs.
“It’s been pretty overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “We haven’t seen a whole lot of damage or graffiti to the signs as well, which — only one sign has been kind of damaged, so I think that actually speaks to them as well.”
They’re not sure there will be more artwork. Breckenridge Open Space and Trails is reviewing their signage system wide, as well as writing a new master plan with more multi-use, and bike optimized, directional trails.
“I think we’ve got a good community up here,” Overlock says. “And I think we’ve got a good foundation and trail system. We’re always trying to improve connections. And then also try to be a little progressive with some bike trails as well.”