Mind the easements
Beehive Basin skiers asked to respect private property
Since the Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO) started keeping track in mid-December 2017, more than 5,000 users have been counted at the Beehive Basin Trailhead. It’s a number that can’t be compared historically since it’s never been officially tracked until now, but frustrated owners whose properties abut or encompass the trail are fed up with backcountry users straying outside of designated easements.
In late April, the Beehive Basin Homeowners Association (BBHA) posted a public notice in the Lookout informing backcountry skiers law enforcement will be patrolling the area more frequently due to the large amount of trespassing that’s reportedly taken place over the last few ski seasons.
Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Brandon Kelly said his department does patrol the Beehive area often, dealing with the trespassers who skin up the ridge separating Middle and Beehive basins, advising potential trespassers they need to stay in the drainage until they reach Forest Service land.
“Most of them have been warned,” Sgt. Kelly said. No one has been cited for trespassing, since there is not adequate signage explaining the correct route, “But if they are caught doing it again, we can ticket them.”
The Big Sky Sheriff’s Office is working with Hammond Property Management, the BBHA and the BSCO to get better signage at the trailhead detailing the official public route available through easement land.
Better signage highlighting the requirement for all-wheel drive vehicles is also needed for the narrow, steep road section leading to the Beehive Basin Trailhead, known as “the Beaver Slide.”
“People with vehicles that have no business being up there are always sliding off and getting stuck in the early and late parts of the ski season,” Sgt. Kelley said.
BBHA Board Member Cory Bronstein spends most of his time at his home in New Jersey, but when residing in his second home in Beehive Basin, he said he’s seen trespassing firsthand, especially in the winter.
“In the summer, people are respectful, it’s all marked pretty well,” Bronstein said. “In the winter, sadly, people don’t behave the same way, even where the trail is marked, they go off it. Some owners are out of their minds with people skiing right across their property.”
Bronstein said he’s by no means against the public using the easements to access a trail named one of the best day hikes in the U.S. by Backpacker magazine in 2017. But he hopes people will respect private property.
“People are being disrespectful. They’ve got this beautiful national forest, but they go onto people’s property to ski anyway,” he said.
In November 2017, the BSCO purchased 7.5 acres of land where the Beehive Trailhead and parking lot are located. BSCO Executive Director Ciara Wolfe said the organization’s goal is to add a kiosk with maps and additional access information to better inform users about where they can and cannot ski.
“We see that the trail has heavy use,” Wolfe said, agreeing with others that the lack of signage is an issue—one the BSCO plans to address. “It’s a beautiful gem in our community, and we will be further involved with it moving forward.”
Other BSCO improvements planned for Beehive include bear-proof trash cans, a toilet and added parking.