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A hiker treks the Horsethief Park Trail in Divide, Teller County, which leads to a waterfall and Pancake Rocks.

Horsethief Park Trail, a popular hiking path near Divide that leads to several scenic spots around Pikes Peak, will shut down Thursday because a private landowner is closing access to the portion of their property that overlaps with the trail, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

Forest Service spokeswoman Crystal Young said a 2020 land survey found that 76 feet of the trail crossed the landowner's property. Forest service officials continued to work on negotiations with the landowner but the landowner plans to close overlapping section Thursday. Young would not provide details about what led to the closure but asked that the public respect private property.

The foot and horse trail, which passes through the old Horsethief Park area and leads to Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls, offers access to other trails and routes on and around Pikes Peak.

Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, said the landowner was in negotiations with the forest service for months in a land dispute before the landowner erected a sign that notified hikers that the strip of trail would close starting July 15.

"It’s unfortunate and these things happen from time to time," Davies said.

Davies' organization is invested in creating Ring the Peak Trail, a pathway of trails that would circumnavigate Pikes Peak. The trail around Pikes Peak is still being completed, including a section that needs to be renovated near Horsethief Park Trail.

"What just happened will prohibit access from the next segment," Davies said. "We’re very concerned of anything that affects The Ring the Peak Trail, because it’s a popular trail. People come from throughout the region and states to hike the Pike National Forest."

Davies encouraged hikers to respect the landowner's signs and said hikers should not try to go around the closure because erosion in other areas could degrade the trail.

Steve Bremner, president of Friends of the Peak, is also concerned about the closure. He said towns such as Cripple Creek and Victor rely on traffic from hikers and tourists to fuel their economy.

"If it (the closure) stands, it’s unfortunate because it’s a very popular trail," Bremner said. "We're very interested in keeping it alive."

Bremner said there are other ways to access some of the same spots, such as using trails from the other side of The Crags campground, but the path is longer.

Contact the writer: jessica.snouwaert@gazette.com

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