A rare view of Pikes Peak, from the new trail route.
After 20 years of planning, local cycling group Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
, has begun work on what will be a significant trail project.
On a recent warm November day, nearly 30 volunteers from the group boarded a Cog Railway train for the first day of work on the trail. With the majority of trail work in the Pikes Peak region focusing on trail repairs, re-routing or mitigation from fire or floods, it's nice to see a genuinely new trail being built.
According to Medicine Wheel president Cory Sutela, the 4.5-mile trail, currently referred to as the "Missing Link" trail, will connect Barr Trail to Jones Park, crossing a number of creeks, the Cog Railway and passing near Lake Moraine along the way. The project, with an estimated cost of $140,000, is being funded by the group, along with a $7,500 grant from outdoor equipment retailer REI, and what has so far amounted to approximately $2,500 of in-kind support from the Cog Railway.
Medicine Wheel volunteers clearing the trail corridor
Getting to this stage hasn't been easy for the group. The entire route for this trail is on Colorado Springs Utilities property. Until recently, Utilities has held a tight grip on the property, keeping it closed to recreational users. Things have changed in recent years — Sutela say he's not sure what brought about the change of heart — and CSU has started to open some land to the public. The opening of the South Slope Recreation Area is the most notable example.
A Medicine Wheel volunteer walks past a large boulder along the proposed trail
With all the requisite approvals in place, and with Colorado Springs Parks Department acting as the manager of the project, Medicine Wheel quickly got to work on the project using volunteer labor and doing rough corridor clearing. According to Sutela, trail work will re-start in the late spring or early summer.
According to Sutela, the trail will be open to all but motorized users, so cyclists, hikers and equestrians will have use of the trail. It's connection with Jones Park will also give hikers an alternate route to the Barr Trail and the summit of Pikes Peak.
While this trail won't be easily accessible — you're going to have to really want it to get to it — it promises to be an exciting development for outdoors enthusiasts.
In other news...
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced that entry to all state parks will be waived on "Black Friday", November 25th.
Also, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is now closed for the winter season.
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates is a participant in the the 2016 Indy Give! campaign.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: email@example.com.