Reopening of Iconic Colorado 14ers Mt Lincoln & Democrat Highlights Need for Liability Reform


The Fix CRUS Coalition is pleased to announce the re-opening of two iconic Colorado 14ers: Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat tomorrow. 

The two peaks, part of the famous DeCaLiBron loop, have been closed since March due to landowner liability concerns will reopen on Friday, July 28th 2023. It will also restore access to Mount Cameron, which can only be reached via Democrat or Lincoln. This news is the result of collaboration between the US Forest Service, Town of Alma, and landowner John Reiber. They worked tirelessly to establish a cooperative liability waiver system for the peaks.

John Reiber, the landowner of mining claims on Mount Lincoln and Democrat, spearheaded the effort to find a temporary solution. “The reopening of these peaks is the result of a lot of collaboration, hard work, and financial investment,” said Reiber. “While it does take a significant amount of effort to manage this, I believe it’s a worthwhile endeavor for the time, both for our local community and for those who want to climb all the 14ers but it’s a stopgap measure. For a long-term solution, join the Fix CRUS Coalition.

However, despite this positive development, Mount Lindsey, another 14er, will remain closed indefinitely. This highlights the ongoing need to amend the Colorado Recreational Use Statute (CRUS) to strengthen landowners’ liability protection for granting free public access.

The recent closure of several areas follows a $7.3 million liability lawsuit involving a biker’s accident on an unofficial Air Force Academy trail. Waiver systems are increasingly common, including all spectators and participants at this year’s Leadville 100 race series. Anneliese Steel, Chair of the Fix CRUS Coalition, emphasized this point: “While we celebrate today’s opening, it’s a temporary solution to a larger issue. We must continue working to strengthen the protections in the Colorado Recreational Use Statute, to protect free access to outdoor recreation.” 

Alex Derr, Secretary of the Coalition, added, “The efforts to reopen Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat are proof of what we can achieve through cooperation and creative thinking. We need to continue using our collective voices and creativity to advocate for a sustainable, long-term solution by fixing Colorado’s recreational use statute.”

Nicole Budine, Conservation Policy Manager at the Colorado Mountain Club added, “We are excited to see this beloved trail reopen to hikers. This reopening underscores the need for a sustainable, long-term solution for recreation access throughout Colorado.” 

“Hat’s off to John Reiber for launching this temporary fix using the electronic waiver to reopen Mounts Democrat and Lincoln,” said Colorado Fourteeners Initiative Executive Director Lloyd Athearn. “However, as owners of another 14er summit (Shavano), CFI knows that the long-term solution to landowner liability for everyone will come through fixing CRUS in the 2024 Colorado legislative session.”

Hikers can use this kiosk at the trailhead to sign a waiver.

Interested hikers should sign this waiver to access Mt Lincoln, Mt Democrat, and Mt Cameron. The summit of Mt Bross remains closed, though the “Bross bypass” trail will be open for hikers completing the full loop. 

The Fix CRUS Coalition, whose 36 members include Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, The Colorado Mountain Club, Access Fund, National Ski Areas Association, The Trust for Public Land, as well as local businesses, counties, and municipalities, remains committed to securing the future of outdoor recreation access in Colorado. While today’s news is a positive step, we continue to urge Colorado’s policymakers to strengthen the CRUS

The following Coalition Executive Committee members are available for additional comment:

  • Anneliese Steel, Boulder Climbing Community, 607.232.3278 
  • Alex Derr, The Next Summit, 920.382.4019
  • Nicole Bundine, Colorado Mountain Club, 607.725.3753 
  • Lloyd Athearn, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, 303.278.7650
  • John Reiber, Landowner for Mt Lincoln & Mt Democrat, 720.299.2039

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