Last week the Manitou Incline became legal to hike, the result of a herculean effort made by the city of Manitou Springs, the city of Colorado Springs and various land owners.
But it wouldn't be the Incline without a false summit. And sure enough, two major hurdles remain: maintenance and parking.
The parking problem is straightforward: the Incline is located at the top of Ruxton Avenue and the base of Pikes Peak. There, edged in by mountain and stream, are homes, businesses, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and trailheads for the Incline and Barr Trail. Since there isn't enough parking, hikers clog residential streets, sometimes blocking driveways, and parking illegally in Cog parking areas or in front of other businesses.
Manitou plans to transition to paid parking on Ruxton and in the downtown area, likely using kiosks. A contractor will install and run the kiosks and could also handle parking enforcement (unless the latter is left to the Manitou Police Department).
Parking here will likely cost $1 a day, but the city also plans to offer free parking at the Tajine Alami restaurant lot just east of downtown from May 19 to Sept. 9. A free shuttle, funded mostly through a federal grant, will take visitors through downtown and up Ruxton.
Those who live in Manitou's core won't need to worry about the kiosks; they'll have permit parking.
As for the maintenance, Colorado Springs, along with a friends group, is repairing the trail. And now that the Incline is open, it qualifies for grants and private funding.
In fact, Manitou City Council agreed to open the Incline now — rather than after the parking issue was resolved — so that the trail could begin getting the money it needs for urgent repairs.
"I got an e-mail today that said, 'Wouldn't it be better to have the parking in place first?" Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says with a sigh. "And yes, it would have been."