Open and legal, at last!
Friday, March 29, 2013
The Mt. Manitou Incline is officially open for Recreational Use
After years in the making, the Mt. Manitou Incline is officially open for recreational use. Join Senator Michael Bennet, Congressman Doug Lamborn, Colorado Springs City Council President Scott Hente and Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder in officially dedicating this popular trail. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for April 1 at 10 a.m. at the base of the Incline, located on Ruxton Avenue. The public is invited and welcome to come celebrate the community's newest “legal” recreational amenity. (Parking for media vehicles will be provided within the upper portion of the COG parking lot.)
Surely one of the most challenging recreation sites in the nation, the Mt. Manitou Incline is a former cable-car route turned trail located at the former site of the Mt. Manitou Scenic Railway in Manitou Springs, Colorado. The trail is a one-mile ascent with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. The average grade is 41%, reaching 68% at the steepest point.
For the past two years the Cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs have been working collaboratively at the local and federal level on issues that needed to be addressed prior to authorizing recreational use of the Incline. Actions required prior to this authorization included multiple agreements between agencies; a US Forest Service Special Use Permit that required federal legislation – pushed through Congress by Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Lamborn – to officially abandon the corridor as a railroad; important safety improvements to the Barr Trailhead, Base of the Incline Trailhead and the trail itself including debris and hazardous rebar removal and tie stabilization; and parking management and regulations. In addition, a citizen advocacy and fundraising group, The Incline Friends, was created in 2011 to implement education and fundraising efforts surrounding the Incline.
Free seasonal shuttle to the Incline
Beginning May 19, a new seasonal Manitou downtown shuttle will provide free rides from Memorial Park to all the surface parking lots in downtown Manitou Springs and will loop around at the Iron Springs Chateau on Ruxton Avenue, just below the Incline trailhead. The Shuttle will run every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily though September 7. The shuttle is funded by a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments to the City of Manitou Springs and is operated by Mountain Metropolitan Transit. The funding will allow the seasonal shuttle to operate for two years.
The Incline Friends Fundraising Efforts
The Incline Friends will be hosting several fundraising events during 2013 to raise money to make repairs to the incline, including an “ask” breakfast with Olympic athletes on Wednesday, April 17. Enjoy a breakfast of champions among world class athletes and fellow Incline enthusiasts. Join the Incline Friends at the Double Tree World Arena from 7 to 8:30 a.m. to help preserve and enrich the Incline experience. The Incline Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization. More information can be found at www.inclinefriends.com.
History of the Mt. Manitou Incline
Completed in 1907, the Manitou Incline was a 1-mile cable tram built to support the construction of a hydroelectric plant and its waterline. After performing this service the railway was then purchased by Dr. Brumbach and turned into a tourist attraction. The Incline boasted a 16-minute ride to “scenic splendors”, 10 miles of hiking trails in Mount Manitou Park, and claimed to be the “longest and highest incline on the globe.”
Despite being substantially privately owned with public access prohibited, the Incline is one of the most popular hikes in the region attracting an estimate minimum 350,000 user trips annually. This popularity continues to grow. Nearly 20 years of unmanaged trespass and use of the Incline have resulted in significant erosion on the mountainside, dangerous trail conditions, user/neighborhood conflicts, and traffic congestion and uncontrolled parking. In 2010 the three property owners, Colorado Springs Utilities, the COG Railway, and the US Forest Service, and the Cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs agreed that serious safety and liability issues as well as the trail’s conditions and impacts on nearby neighborhoods called for development of a Site Development and Management Plan to address these issues, to allow the Incline to open for legal use and to capitalize on the Incline’s benefits. After two years of working together locally, with legislative support at the federal level from Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Doug Lamborn, the Incline is now officially open and legal for recreational use.