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When will the Waldo Canyon Trail reopen? Questions answered 5 years after the massive fire

June 18, 2017 Updated: June 19, 2017 at 11:26 am
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A sign for the Waldo Canyon trail stands broken five years after the wildfire. The formerly popular trail has been closed since the blaze, as the U.S. Forest Service says the route has been washed away by erosion. (Photo by The Gazette)

Five years after the Waldo Canyon fire, that is a question still being posed by the public, said Pikes Peak District Ranger Oscar Martinez of the U.S. Forest Service.

Conservationists call Pikes Peak’s granite-based soil  “kitty litter,” for its pebbly, porous condition, which rain had no problem moving in the days after the burn, washing the sediment into the canyon and piling it up to heights of grown men. That phenomenon made portions of the Waldo trail disappear along its 7-mile loop.  

Forest managers say outdoor enthusiasts should refine their questions about the trail, considering that it no longer really exists. Realignment seems more than likely.

“The question is where will it be, if there will ever be a trail in there,” Martinez says.

Serious conversations about reintroducing recreation have yet to be had. The management plan for the Pike National Forest is due sometime between 2018 and 2020, and that, Martinez says, would identify areas where a trail is feasible.

Susan Davies with the Trails and Open Space Coalition understands the Forest Service's concerns - the dangers of flash floods and dead trees that could fall on heads at any moment. "It is the five-year anniversary" of the fire, she says, "and I think it would be great if the Forest Service were willing to put together a timeline, or even state a goal of when we might be able to start a public process. Could we at least start a conversation?"

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