Hikers and mountain bikers were surprised to find a barbed wire fence blocking the entrance to the Hog Hollow Trail system through the Angel’s Gate trailhead in Highland early in December. The popular trailhead is privately owned by Blue Bison Development, but residents from Alpine, Highland, Lehi and American Fork are fighting to keep the unofficial entrance open to the public.
“A Prescriptive Easement for Hog Hollow exists, and Blue Bison Development has no legal right to block public access to Hog Hollow from Alpine/Highland,” wrote Bruce Argyle. Argyle, an experienced mountain biker and Alpine resident, is the editor and principal author for UtahMountainBiking.com.
In Utah, a prescriptive easement is created when a person uses another person’s property (even though the use was not expressly agreed to) for a prolonged period. Prescriptive easements recognize long-standing usage, especially if the use was relied upon for the enjoyment of property. One of the ways to establish a prescriptive easement is to show that the land has been continuously in use without permission or approval by the property owner for at least 20 years.
“Evidence shows that the Hog Hollow Road has been in continuous use by mountain bikers every year and every season of the year for 30 years. It was used without seeking permission from any entity,” Argyle continued. “The nearest alternative trailheads are miles away on heavily trafficked roads.”
Mountain biking teams from Lehi, Highland and Alpine regularly use the Angel’s Gate trailhead to access Hog Hollow Trails. Members of the mountain biking teams from Skyridgeand Lone Peak met at the Angel’s Gate trailhead on Monday, Dec. 13, to protest the blocked gate. “They only had an hour’s notice and yet showed up en masse in 40-degree weather,” said Camille Aagard. “These kids have so much to lose if we adults don’t combine our effort and resources to fight this.”
In the June 2, 2020, Alpine City Planning Commission meeting, Jake Satterfield from Blue Bison explained that to develop the land, a secondary access road was required by both Draper and Alpine. Blue Bison originally planned to have one road coming in and out the same entrance on the Draper side of the Summit Point development, but they were required to have a secondary emergency access road through Alpine to protect the residents of the development. The Alpine General Plan allows for only three gateways into the city and hundreds of citizens have objected toconnecting Draper and Alpine through Lakeview Drive. Blue Bison’s other possible secondary road is at Angel’s Gate in Highland.
“The denial of secondary access is what has [Blue Bison] so mad that they have fenced off their property and blocked access to the trails from Highland in what appears to be an attempt to pressure the city into granting secondary access,” Doug Anderson explained on the Save Our Trails Facebook Page. The group added almost 700 members in just a few days.
“Highland, Alpine, Lehi, American Fork and Cedar Hills see tremendous benefit from what Draper has been doing on its own for 20 years. Draper builds and pays for trails and trailheads, police and emergency response. Highland and Alpine might not get a tax benefit from the Blue Bison development, but they definitely get benefits from access to Corner Canyon,” Anderson continued.
“We need to make resolving this a priority for Highland and Alpine leaders,” said Michael Dutton, also a member of Save Our Trails. “I realize they can only do so much as they need cooperation from Draper as well. Trail access is important to Draper residents too. Without it, their existing trailheads get more crowded, and their residents can no longer loop routes into Utah County.”
“This is definitely a cautionary tale for Lehi. There’s no point in building a huge trail system if the city doesn’t get an easement and access to that trail system,” said Lehi City Councilman Paul Hancock. Hancock was hiking on the Hog Hollow Trail on Dec. 1. When he returned to Angel’s Gate, construction workers were putting in stakes for the barbed wire fence. “The cities surrounding this amazing trail system need to share ownership and work together,” Hancock concluded.
Contact with Blue Bison has been unsuccessful.