Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Rider in Residence: Bike trail to Cheyenne Mountain summit a parks resolution for 2017

January 9, 2017 Updated: January 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm
0
Caption +
Volunteer Steve Sjordal removes a stump Saturday, May 30, 2015, as Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado work on the Dixon Trail to the top of Cheyenne Mountain from Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The trail is expected to be completed by 2019. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Operators of Cheyenne Mountain State Park are pursuing a worthy goal for the new year: finally completing a long-awaited route to the Cheyenne Mountain summit.

The so-called Dixon Trail, high in the park's southwestern corner, has been under construction by volunteers for the past five years, but poor weather and the remote, rugged terrain have slowed progress to a crawl.

Now park managers are turning to the professionals at the Rocky Mountain Field Institute in Colorado Springs in hopes of closing a 1.5-mile gap that remains.

Under a $50,000 contract with the state, RMFI trail builders will spend six weeks on the mountain, along with any volunteers they can enlist, in an effort to bring the project to a conclusion, said park manager Mitchell Martin.

"I am really thinking that we should be able to be open to the public in 2018," Martin told The Gazette. "There's a possibility that something could happen in the fall of this year, but I don't want to get everybody's hopes up and fall short of that."

The 3-mile Dixon Trail will connect the Talon Trail loop to the Cheyenne Mountain summit ridge, granting a path to the Top of the Mountain Trail, a new 3.6-mile figure 8 loop that has been finished but is not yet publicly accessible.

Martin estimated that the climb up Cheyenne Mountain will rise 3,000 feet in just under 7 miles before reaching the top loop, as measured from the park's lower parking lot.

The prospect of a stout new climb on Colorado Springs' second-most famous peak has long excited the region's long-distance hikers and trail runners, who are uniquely equipped to make the 15- to 20-mile round trip required to visit the summit trail.

Unfortunately, cyclists won't be joining them - at least not yet.

Under a 2012 decision by the state park, mountain bikers and equestrians will be allowed only up to the halfway point of the Dixon Trail. State park managers cited concerns over public safety - fast cyclists, in other words - as well as fears that wheels and hooves would damage the trail on steep grades.

But the region's mountain bikers should pay close attention to plans in the state park, because the potential is tremendous.

Last March, for example, the city of Colorado Springs quietly purchased a $1 million property along Rock Creek on Cheyenne Mountain. Together with the Dixon Trail, that acquisition opens up the possibility of a new corridor over Cheyenne Mountain, potentially creating a back door to the state park accessible from Gold Camp Road. While such a development would take years to realize, connecting Cheyenne Mountain State Park to the Pike National Forest would multiply options for backcountry adventures.

The state park is also looking at other potential corridors that would allow cyclists onto the Top of the Mountain Trail, Martin said.

-

Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366

Twitter: @lancebenzel

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 

Exclusive Subscriber Content

You read The Gazette because you care about your community and the local stories you can't find anywhere else.

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber? Get Access | Already a digital subscriber? Log In
 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.