One month after torrential floodwaters submerged much of the Front Range, uncertainty remains in North Cheyenne Canyon Park on the west side of Colorado Springs.
The popular park remains closed and the city has a worker posted the gate near Cheyenne Boulevard and large barriers block the entrance.
During the mid-September storm, more than 10 inches of rain dumped along the banks of Cheyenne Creek and raging waters poured down the slopes, into the channel and overflowed stream banks.
The city's Parks, Trails and Open Space supervisor Scott Abbott said potential danger has seeped into the Pikes Peak granite and is still looking for places to come out, create new streams and undermine the rocky slopes.
"Water is still draining out of the mountain," Abbott said, noting that North Cheyenne Canyon Park and the surrounding trails will likely be closed for an undermined amount of time.
Abbott said the city has hired rock scaling experts who will study the steep canyon walls in the park and try to determine if slopes are ready to come tumbling. Until then, there are safety issues and concerns about permanently repairing the already damaged road through the park.
Temporary fixes were administered in mid-September to two 30-yard sections of the road that washed away in the storm. After the rock scaling study is done, Abbott said the city intends to solicit FEMA for grant money and possibly have the road replaced.
Parks and Recreation Director Karen Palus said in September that repairs in North Cheyenne Canyon would cost about $300,000 in addition to the roadwork.
Abbott said the city has been even more hesitant to set a date to reopen the park after five hikers were killed during a Sept. 30 rockslide near Agnes Vaille Falls in Chaffee County.
"It gave us a clear example of the possibilities," Abbott said. "We're being very thorough because of the unknowns."
The city parks official said as autumn progresses and winter nears the potential for freezes and thaws makes the area more precarious.
About 75 percent of the trails in the park - including the Columbine Trail, Mount Cutler Trail and Silver Cascade Trail above Helen Hunt Falls - have had post-flood maintenance. But Abbott said much of the middle Columbine Trail is still not ready for hikers.
"It's still very challenging and has a lot of damage to it," he said.
Abbott said Gold Camp Road above the park is still closed after the storm badly eroded areas near two tunnels along the route.
The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for those repairs but due to the partial federal government shutdown, there is no estimate about when the road and trails will reopen, Abbott said.
Abbott said the only other closure in Colorado Springs parks is along the Pikes Peak Greenway near Circle Drive in the southern part of the city.
The parks department continues to echo a mantra expressed loudly all summer as flash floods have plagued the region. Abbott once again shared that message Thursday.
"We just want the recreating public to be very cautious in all our open space properties," he said. "Things have changed. Your favorite route is going to have varying degrees of damage. Around the next bend, you may be seeing a different rock or different rut in the trail."