The city of Colorado Springs was recently awarded a $250,000 Non-Motorized Trail Grant from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to construct Phase 1 of the Daniel’s Pass Trail System in North Cheyenne Cañon Park.
Daniel’s Pass is just west of Mount Muscoco and south of North Cheyenne Creek, across from Pull-Out No. 21 on North Cheyenne Canyon Road in the park, where a new connector trail to Columbine Trail begins.
Currently, hikers and mountain bikers can access the unofficial trail on Daniel’s Pass from the west via Gold Camp Road near the collapsed tunnel to Mount Muscoco. The trail can also be accessed from the north by rock hopping or taking a makeshift log bridge across the North Cheyenne Creek. The existing north-facing trail is steep in sections with loose rock and is used primarily by downhill mountain bikers.
South of the saddle lies the 200-acre property the city of Colorado Springs acquired in the controversial 2016 land swap with The Broadmoor that resulted in The Broadmoor taking ownership of Strawberry Hill. Developing trails in Daniel’s Pass is the first step in creating a network of trails in the former Broadmoor property, known as the West Parcel.
“I think [the West Parcel is] a wonderful addition,” said Cathy Railton, parks operation administrator for North Cheyenne Cañon Park. “It’s an amazing piece of property to have access to — all of that land at the upper Cañon is a real benefit, and we still have access to Strawberry Hill.”
The future Daniel’s Pass Trail System was laid out in the 2018 North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master Plan. It’s the latest in a number of improvements to the park since the plan was adopted, including construction of numerous connector trails, parking lot upgrades, and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements at Helen Hunt Falls.
“It’s just amazing — kind of like the showcase of investment in a park,” Railton said.
According to a CPW press release, the grant will fund trailhead development, 3.4 miles of new sustainable soft surface trail, two pedestrian Fiberglas bridges, trail wayfinding and interpretive signage in addition to closing and restoring over a mile of unsustainable social trails.
Railton is looking forward to the development of the Daniel’s Pass Trail system, but mountain bikers who have been using Daniel’s Pass for downhill mountain biking are disappointed to lose the existing trail.
“Let’s be honest — many of us have been using Daniel’s Pass Trail for decades and will be sad to see this trail get rerouted in July or August of this year,” said Cory Sutela, executive director of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates. “During the master plan process, many of us argued for keeping the trail as is and for expanding access to steep and technical trails in our region.”
The most common feedback Sutela hears from MWTA members is the need for more trails like Daniel’s Pass, but he said his group recognizes the location isn’t the best for a downhill trail.
Despite their disappointment over losing the old trail, Sutela said MWTA is excited about the access the new Daniel’s Pass Trail will bring to the former Broadmoor property and planned trails there, the possibility of new loops to ride, and the contractor the city selected to build the trail.
“With a tear in our eye we bid farewell to a well-loved trail that didn’t make it through the master plan process and look forward to the new trail experiences that will be possible as a result of the change,” Sutela said.
Work on the Daniel’s Pass trailhead is underway. According to city’s website, they will soon complete the new Daniel’s Pass Trailhead, create 12 designated parking spaces, and install bridge abutments to prepare for the two new trail bridges across North Cheyenne Creek, which are scheduled to be installed later this summer. One bridge will connect Daniel’s Pass to a trail to the Bruin Inn Connector Trail, an area of the park the City is also working on. The other bridge will give access to the Daniel’s Pass Trail.
The work, along with other park improvements, is being completed while North Cheyenne Canyon Road is closed to park visitors on weekdays through June 18. The park and trails remain open for non-motorized recreational use, and Gold Camp Road and a newly paved parking lot above Helen Hunt Falls are currently open.