MAN­I­TOU TRAIL BACK IN SER­VICE AF­TER RE­PAIRS

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

The Man­i­tou In­cline, the heart­pound­ing mile of steps near Colorado Springs, will re­open Fri­day af­ter three months of re­pairs.

Hik­ers can re­turn to the chal­leng­ing work­out that has made Man­i­tou Springs a des­ti­na­tion for lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, but now they can climb a trail that has been up­dated to fend off ero­sion.

“We get calls in this of­fice a few times a week,” Trails and Open Space Coali­tion ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Su­san Davies said. “We’ve been get­ting them ever since it closed. ‘Is it open yet?’ ”

Davies said vis­i­tors will some­times drive to Colorado just for the In­cline and its chal­leng­ing rail­road-tie steps, but lo­cals also are pas­sion­ate about it.

“You talk to peo­ple, they need to do it once, twice or three times a week or they just don’t feel good about them­selves,” she said. “Those are the peo­ple that re­ally go through with­drawals when it closes pe­ri­od­i­cally for these re­pairs.”

This is the sec­ond of three re­pair phases, said Sarah Br­yarly, who led the re­pairs for the city of Colorado Springs. The first phase was com­pleted in 2014. The city is un­sure when the fi­nal phase will be com­pleted be­cause fund­ing has yet to be de-

ter­mined, she said.

Br­yarly’s team added re­tain­ing walls, ca­ble ties and cul­verts to move wa­ter off the path. The city also re­seeded along the side of the path to con­trol ero­sion.

Rocky Moun­tain Field In­sti­tute ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jen­nifer Peter­son, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion re­paired the Barr Trail, which con­nects to the In­cline, said many hik­ers likely will at­tend the open­ing at 8:30 a.m. Fri­day.

Peter­son said the In­cline is a dif­fer­ent beast from other trails: “It is by far the most in­tense work­out you’ll ever have, and I think that in of it­self is just the chal­lenge of push­ing your body to lim­its you didn’t think pos­si­ble is just a draw.”

The new hiking path started as a ca­ble tram that was com­pleted in 1907 to move wa­ter down from the north slope of Pikes Peak to Colorado Springs and Man­i­tou Springs. Soon af­ter, the tram was con­verted into a tourist at­trac­tion.

“All of the pic­tures they ex­ag­ger­ated so when you see the old-time pic­tures of the tram, they tilted it a lit­tle more so it looks like you’re go­ing down this roller coaster,” Br­yarly said.

The at­trac­tion was closed in 1990 af­ter rock slides and washouts crushed the tracks. But pieces from the line were left be­hind.

Al­though the area was tech­ni­cally closed, Br­yarly said a small group of hik­ers that called them­selves the In­cline Club be­gan to hike the trail il­le­gally. Slowly, the path grew in pop­u­lar­ity. Ath­letes be­gan to in­clude it in their train­ing reg­i­men.

By 2010, the trail’s three own­ers — Colorado Springs Util­i­ties, Pikes Peak Cog Rail­way and the U.S. For­est Ser­vice — met to dis­cuss what to do with it.

“It got to the point where there were too many peo­ple do­ing it for it not to be ei­ther le­gal­ized or com­pletely closed,” Br­yarly said. “It took an act of Congress lit­er­ally to le­gal­ize it.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed a bill that helped clar­ify the le­gal sta­tus of the In­cline, which even­tu­ally be­came le­gal in 2013.

Colorado Springs has taken over man­age­ment of the trail, which will be open for win­ter hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. On April 1, the sum­mer hours will ex­tend un­til 8 p.m. Br­yarly said the city will cite hik­ers on the trail be­fore 6 a.m.

Pa­trick Tray­lor, The Den­ver Post

The pop­u­lar Man­i­tou In­cline trail fea­tures about 2,000 steps and 2,000 feet of el­e­va­tion gain over just 1 mile at the foot of Pikes Peak.

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