Hike the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park and one often sees small, six-sided patches sewn to a hiker’s backpack or hat. The Emerald Lake patch has a green border (under five miles) while the strenuous Longs Peak patch boasts a gold border (15+ miles).
Trail Tags as symbols of hiking achievements was the brainstorm of Lyle and Marge Young of Lincoln, Nebraska who owned a cabin at Meeker Park near Estes Park. While hiking in the Park in 1971, they noticed that their friends carried sticks with metal emblems representing their hikes in Europe. The Youngs liked the idea of the achievement symbols so they made small, cloth patches that could be sewn to backpacks, hats or jackets.
The Youngs designed images for each badge, devised the color code for length of hike and embroidered the patches. Lyma Enterprises was born. The following March, Lyle and Marge met with Western Brands, National Park Village and the YMCA of the Rockies to arrange orders. The three businesses sell Trail Tags to this day.
Today, the popular Trail Tags are sold in many Estes Park stores including Estes Park Mountain Shop, Kirks Fly Shop, Miller’s Indian Village and Rams Horn Village Resort. They can also be purchased in other locations such as Great Smokey, Bryce and Zion National Parks. The tags generally cost about $1.50.
Lyle and Marge’s youngest daughter Nancy helped by filling orders from their home in Nebraska. Even though she was surrounded by them, Nancy enjoyed earning her tags by joining the daily hikes with her family. She is most proud of her Longs Peak tag earned at the age of 18. Later, she and her husband backpacked to Mills Lake for their honeymoon. “Because of my parents, the mountains and hiking got in my blood. I’m so glad for the experience I had with my parents all those years ago.”
The business was sold in 1984. Lyle passed away in 2012 at the age of 93. Marge still enjoys visits to the cabin with her daughters. Although she can’t travel to Estes Park often, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren still use the cabin and earn Trail Tags.
Do you have a trail tag tradition? Please share it with us!
Tags: What to Do