Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Storms took heavy toll on Colorado Springs parks, trails

By Scott Rappold Updated: September 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

The sun was back out in Colorado Springs Tuesday , but many parks and trails remained closed to hikers with cabin fever from a week of wet weather.

North Cheyenne Canon, one of the city's most-beloved parks, is closed indefinitely, because two sections of road the size of football fields caved in when Cheyenne Creek became a raging torrent.

"There's going to have to be some major repairs on North Cheyenne Canon Road itself before we can open the park," said Cathy Railton, program manager for city parks. "The trails have suffered significant damage. There are huge ruts and washouts on the trails, to where the trails are dangerous also."

The good news, she said, is the park's buildings were not damaged. Starsmore Discovery Center and the nearby picnic area are expected to reopen Wednesday.

The story is the same at many other parks and trails.

"From the pictures we're getting from our friends groups, absolutely we've got a lot of work to be done, with roads out, trails out and everything else," said Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. "It's going to be a long haul just to get us back to where we were a week ago."

Here is a rundown of what is open and closed:

- In the center of the city, Palmer Park also remained closed Tuesday. The Facebook page of the group Guardians of Palmer Park showed trails with deep gullies and washouts, and supporters said the paved road in the park was damaged and gravel roads are too fragile to handle vehicles.

The group will hold a work day from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday to begin repairing the damage. Visit gopalmerpark.org for more information.

City parks officials said they hope to have it reopened by the weekend.

- Some urban trails are also closed. City parks officials said the Sinton Trail, which runs from near downtown, along Douglas Creek to Garden of the Gods Road, was damaged, as was a southern section of the Pikes Peak Greenway along Fountain Creek, beginning at South Nevada Avenue.

- Red Rock Canyon Open Space is open, though "there are certain trails that are just demolished," said David Valier, treasurer with the Friends of Red Rock Canyon.

He said the Red Rock Canyon Trail, an old access road, is severely washed out. He was not aware of any significant rockfall in the park.

- Garden of the Gods is also open, except for the Foothills Trail, which was damaged by rushing water.

- Privately-owned tourist attraction Seven Falls is closed until further notice.

- The Manitou Incline, rising 2,000 steep feet above the town, is open, but the trail suffered major erosion, said Sandi Yukman, vice president of the Incline Friends.

She hiked the trail Tuesday and counted three railroad ties washed out and many more undercut and "hanging on barely."

"The drainage ditches along side the ties has deepened by at least a foot. I would say the damage is very high but fixable with some in-fill dirt and replacement ties," she said.

The group will hold a fundraiser Oct. 4 at the Iron Springs Chateau to raise money for trail work.

- Some El Paso County parks are also closed in the aftermath of the flooding, including Black Forest Regional Park, also damaged by fire this summer, and Rainbow Falls Recreation Area.

County parks head Tim Wolken said Tuesday the Ute Pass Regional Trail could reopen soon, while parts of the Fountain Creek Regional Trail and Fountain Creek Open Space are closed because of erosion. Bear Creek Regional Park is open for now, though he said some trails may have to be closed off to repair deep erosion.

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