Manitou Springs, CO “Incline” Trail Now Open, Legal to Public
Considered One of the Country’s Toughest Climbs
Colorado Springs, Colorado – February 1, 2013 - Hikers will no longer be trespassing on the Manitou Springs Incline. That's because beginning Friday, February 1, 2013 hiking up the old railway bed will be legal. The Manitou Springs City Council gave the final approval for opening the popular trail on Tuesday, January 29. What began as a railway to transport material for an old water line, will now officially be recognized as one of the most popular trails in the U.S.
"This day has been long-awaited and opening the Incline has been an amazing process to watch," said Bill Beagle of the Incline Friends committee. "I speak for myself and for the members of Incline Friends when I offer my sincere congratulations to all who worked to make this happen. A legal Incline is something that the people of the Pikes Peak Region deserve." The process began in 2009 with the formation of the Manitou Incline Task Force - representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the Forest Service, Manitou Springs residents and others - which began forming the Manitou Incline Site Development and Management Plan.
At its core, the plan identified 13 key steps to complete before the Incline could be made legal. After four years and a lot of hard work, those required steps have been taken. Colorado Springs City Council gave its final approval earlier this month.
The opening will mark a historic day for all who love the Manitou Incline. Gaining about 2,000 feet elevation over one mile, the Incline had been climbed illegally as many as 350,000 times each year. It is, perhaps, the most unique and challenging trail in the country, attracting runners, Olympic athletes and cyclists. The trail is also used by military personnel and even soccer moms. More than anything, the Incline is famous for dishing out a tough workout. "I can’t think of any particular workout, route, or activity that forces you to push your boundaries quite like the Incline does," said Cameron Chambers, national mountain bike champion. "Redlined - that is the only word I can think of when describing the workout the Incline gives you." Jim Caple of ESPN survived his first attempt of the vertically vicious climb in July of 2012.
There are big challenges ahead for the Incline Friends group, a nonprofit organization formed in the spring of 2011. Incline Friends is dedicated to making the Incline sustainable and open to the public and has hosted fundraising events and organized volunteer work days. Steve Bremner, president of Incline Friends, said there is plenty of work left to do. Now that the Incline is legal, repairs, maintenance and trail building can begin, but fundraising is the top priority. "The opening of the Incline is the start of the next phase in the saga, now we have to raise $1 million to make badly needed repairs," Bremner said. Much of the Incline will require little or no work, but large sections will need to be repaired.
Incline Friends committee member Tim Bergsten states, “An open Incline is crucial to a region that takes great pride in the active lifestyles of its residents. As a community I think we've made a statement that living healthfully is important to us.”