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Work nears on long-delayed trail up Ute Pass

By: R. SCOTT RAPPOLD
September 6, 2011
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photo - The Ute Pass Trail parallels Highway 24 in this section west of Manitou Springs. Grants will help open the trail from Manitou through the Ute Pass communities. Evenutally, the trail will connect Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. Photo by Dena Rosenberry, The Gazette
The Ute Pass Trail parallels Highway 24 in this section west of Manitou Springs. Grants will help open the trail from Manitou through the Ute Pass communities. Evenutally, the trail will connect Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. Photo by Dena Rosenberry, The Gazette 

The Ute Indian Trail, a historic route up Ute Pass from Colorado Springs, will be open to the public by next year.

Thanks to a $120,000 state grant, plus $27,000 in regional development fee revenue and $14,000 in local contributions, El Paso County officials plan to build this “new” trail in 2012.

A public meeting to present the plan and listen to residents and trail users’ comments will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at MarCroft Hall, 9105 Chipita Park Road, Chipita Park.

While this version of the trail will be new, people have used the route for centuries as a gateway to the mountains, from the Ute Indians to the “Pikes Peak or Bust” gold miners.

A social trail exists from Winter Street in Manitou Springs to the water treatment plant and up the pass to Green Mountain Falls. But it is steep and eroding and closed on the west side because it crosses private property.

County parks officials have had the trail on their planning list for nearly 30 years, but had been prevented from moving forward because it crosses Colorado Springs Utilities property. That agency is working on lifting prohibitions on trails through some watersheds.

“There really is no good trail to connect all the communities along (U.S.) Highway 24 and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said county parks planner Jason Meyer.

The first phase will be to build a trail 3.5 miles from the Manitou Incline to Utilities property near Cascade, followed by 1.3 miles to the highway in Cascade, Meyer said. Two miles of the trail, from the county line to Ute Pass Elementary School, exist.

The entire trail is known as the Ute Pass Trail, and eventually it will connect Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek.

The trail will be open to hikers, cyclists and horses, Meyer said.

“The Ute Pass Trail project is another example of public-private collaboration,” said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark in a news release. “We welcome participation and input from our community on this trail’s importance to this county’s past and as an historic landmark in our region.”

ALSO IN THE PLANNING STAGE:

Colorado Springs parks officials are holding a public workshop to discuss a master plan encompassing Red Rock Canyon, White Acres and Section 16 open space areas Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.

Additional workshops will be held Oct. 5, Nov. 16 and Jan. 18. See OutThereColorado.com for details.

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