By now, hikers had expected to finally ascend Cheyenne Mountain, the antennae- topped summit that has captivated Colorado Springs adventurers for years.

They’re still waiting.

Mitch Martin, manager of Cheyenne Mountain State Park, had expected contracted work to be finished and the Dixon Trail ready for its long-anticipated opening during the week of Aug. 27. That previous weekend, the contractor, local nonprofit Rocky Mountain Field Institute, trekked up the mountain for what was thought to be the last days of work, said Jeanette Lara, the park’s administrative assistant.

“It was after that we realized, ‘Whoa, we’re still behind schedule,’” she said.

Now the park is giving no indication as to when the path will be ready for users. The Rocky Mountain Field Institute plans to continue the job for 10 days starting Oct. 3, said project coordinator Joe Lavorini.

The delay comes as the trusted builders encountered unexpected snags near 8,000 feet, along slopes where a gap remained in the Dixon Trail since volunteers began construction in 2011. Lavorini said crews have been slowed while having to build stone walls and steps around rising switchbacks — structures intended to prevent damaging erosion.

“It’s a doggone steep mountain that requires a lot of structures, and you don’t always know that until you start scraping the dirt and seeing how things settle. It’s taking a little bit longer,” he said. “As much as you try to go in with a game plan, there’s always gonna be surprises along the way.”

Lara said volunteers and park staff have been working “almost daily” this month ahead of the contractor’s return.

If all goes accordingly, Rocky Mountain Field Institute crews will wrap up a week ahead of the fourth annual Cheyenne Mountain Run, set for Oct. 20. Organizers hope the race, which has helped fund Dixon’s construction, will for the first time feature the trail’s full length, amounting to a half-marathon out and back.

Users will start on the park’s Talon Trail, turning on North Talon and arriving to Dixon’s trailhead after about 3½ miles. Hikers will journey another 3½ miles and 2,000-plus feet up to the mountain’s eastern flank, where the figure-eight circuit called the Top of the Mountain Trail awaits — more miles of sightseeing if so desired.

Lara said the park will announce the trail’s opening when the time comes.

“We just want to make sure it’s done right, so that we have the best possible product to present,” she said.

Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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