One highly anticipated trail in the Pikes Peak region could be finished next month, while the opening of another has been delayed.
With funding in place now at the start of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s fiscal year, Cheyenne Mountain State Park manager Mitch Martin expects builders to fill a quarter-mile gap in Dixon Trail as early as mid-August. That will complete a seven-year effort that started with volunteers determined to see a path to the top of the region’s second-most famous mountain.
With money from Colorado Springs’ tax-funded Trails, Open Space and Parks program and the Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park, an easement has been secured on private land about halfway up the mountain. The lack of easement previously had stalled the trail’s opening. The local Rocky Mountain Field Institute constructed the upper stretch of trail on the mountain’s rocky, eastern flank in 2014, adding also the Top of the Mountain Trail, a 3.6-mile figure-eight circuit through meadows and aspen groves that lends hikers more adventure and views after the hard ascent.
Martin said RMFI would need four work days to fill the short gap. “I’m thinking late August for a soft opening,” he said.
Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians will be able to go 3 miles on Talon Trail, where Dixon Trail starts and gains 2,000-plus feet over another 3 miles. Not all users, though, will be permitted on the second half of the summiting route that switchbacks along a series of stone steps.
The park’s 2012 management plan calls for hikers only on that section. In discussions with disgruntled mountain bikers, Martin has pledged to explore the possibility of a “back door” route to the Top of the Mountain Trail, a route that would require access on U.S. Forest Service land.
Meanwhile, riders continue their wait for the Lake Moraine Trail, known for decades as the Missing Link.
The project funded by Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates and overseen by the city’s parks department had a hopeful end date in July. But due to other commitments statewide, Singletrack Trails crews weren’t able to restart the job from Pikes Peak’s remote south slope until this week, said David Deitemeyer, the planner with city parks.
“Now everything is moving forward,” he said. “It’s been a project years and years in the making, so a slight delay in the summer I think everybody should understand that.”
Deitemeyer said the contractor expected to work over the next 8-10 weeks. That could mean an opening in time for prime riding in the fall, pleasing cyclists who coveted the trail long before Colorado Springs Utilities’ historic 2010 agreement allowing recreation in its watershed.
Crews have about 2 more miles to finish, connecting that section with a trail built last fall in a widely undiscovered swath of America’s Mountain.
The multiuse Lake Moraine Trail will add a high-alpine option to the region’s outdoor recreation profile. One trailhead will be at the Jones Park area of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, another at Mountain View near Pikes Peak’s halfway station of Barr Camp.
By starting from North Cheyenne Cañon and going the distance to Mountain View, catching Barr Trail, users will realize a new route to the 14,115-foot summit.