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After Guardsman Towing, Park City Stresses Planning Ahead For Winter Trail Access

Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)

A handful of cars were towed on Guardsman Pass during last weekend’s snow storm after snow plows were blocked from accessing the road. KPCW’s Sean Higgins reports on the importance of proper winter trail access parking.

Trail access issues in Park City are not a new topic. An explosion in the popularity of trails in and around Park City in recent years has led to a number of problems like crowded trailheads, trespassing, and increased noise and parking problems.

This past weekend, dozens of cars were parked on Guardsman Pass above Park City and a handful were towed after a snowplow was not able to get through and access the road. 

Park City Trails and Open Space Program Manager Heinrich Deters says there are over two dozen parking spots for trail access on Guardsman Pass above the roundabout at the Montage. He says the plowing in that area is actually done by the Talisker Club, not the city, and trail users need to be mindful of plowing needs as snow continues to fall in Park City.  

“There’s 25 spots there,” says Deters. “Obviously, depending on the winter and the plowing, that can obviously be minimized when we have a big snow year. I know that that road gets very skinny and congested, especially with the plowing, and the plowing is very important in that area. Talisker provides plowing in that stretch of Marsac, if you will , it’s basically Guardsmans and Marsac. It’s really something to plan ahead and then, you know, if you’re going someplace, park in the designated trailhead areas and that would be a suggestion by myself.” 

He adds as upper Guardsman Pass closes to traffic in the winter, planning ahead becomes even more important

Parking enforcement at various trailheads in the greater Snyderville basin actually began earlier this summer in an effort to clamp down on trail users parking in residential areas instead of designated trailhead parking.

One of the main justifications given by Summit County for the increased enforcement was that crowded street parking would not allow enough room for emergency vehicles and snow clearing equipment to access the street -- which is exactly what happened on Guardsman Pass last weekend. 

In response, Deters and his counterparts in Wasatch County, the Mountain Trails Foundation, and Basin Recreation will soon be releasing information on preferred winter trail access. Deters says the more information available to winter trail users, the more ticketing and towing of cars can be avoided.

“So, I think the best bet for people is to really sort of plan ahead,” he says. “The new Wasatch County trails manager, Charlie [Sturgis] with Mountain Trails, Matt [Wagoner] with the Basin [Recreation], and myself, we’re working right now on winter trails suggested access areas. It’s probably some areas that have the appropriate parking, they have facilities associated with it and we’re sort of encouraging people to go to those areas.” 

The preferred winter trail access information is expected to be released sometime next week.