- Bob Falcone
- The Ring the Peak system gets closer to completion.
Many great things happened locally in 2017 — and many bad things didn’t happen. We didn’t have any massive fires or any floods. Ditto on blizzards and tornadoes. We didn’t even have many oppressively hot days. So, let’s take a look at what did happen in recent months:
• After being closed to protect the greenback cutthroat trout, many of the trails in the Bear Creek watershed were re-opened after repairs and rerouting were completed. Trail 667 was repaired, rerouted and re-opened (including to motorcycle use) during the summer. Bear Creek Trail 666 from lower High Drive was decommissioned near Josephine Falls. Trail 776 intersects Trail 666 just before Josephine Falls, and continues up to a saddle near the summit of Mount Buckhorn. From there, hikers and cyclists (nonmotorized users) can choose to go down Trail 776 to Gold Camp Road, near the popular Seven Bridges trail, or turn left and go past the summit of Buckhorn on Trail 667 and then to the top of High Drive — or, turn right on 667 and continue to Kineo Mountain and then to the Jones Park area.
It’s an excellent example of multiple agencies working together — including the U.S. Forest Service, El Paso County, city of Colorado Springs, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several outdoor groups — toward the goals of protecting the fish, allowing recreational use and reopening trails to motorcyclists.
• Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates made significant progress on the “Missing Link” trail they started building in the fall of 2016. The trail, connecting Barr Trail to Jones Park and the Bear Creek watershed on Pikes Peak, is nearly done, according to Medicine Wheel President Cory Sutela. Twenty years in the making, the trail first needed approval from Colorado Springs Utilities, which owns the land it sits on. Corridor clearing started last fall, and resumed this past summer once the snow cleared from the peak. The 4.5-mile trail, from the Mountain View Trail near Barr Camp to the west end of Jones Park, has been cleared, and will be completed by Singletrack Trails thanks to an $80,000 Colorado State Trails grant. According to Sutela, if the weather cooperates, the trail may be completed by the end of October, although some “fine finishing” may need to be done by hand, most likely in the spring of 2018.
- Courtesy US Forest Service
- Carry an updated map to link up with the rerouted Trail 667 in the Bear Creek area.
• The “Legacy Loop” got a step closer to completion thanks to a $1 million grant awarded in 2015 from Great Outdoors Colorado, which brought the total funding for the project to over $4 million so far. Envisioned by Colorado Springs founder Gen. William Palmer as an urban transportation greenway around what was then the outer limits of Colorado Springs, the Legacy Loop is now a system of connected hiking and cycling trails around Colorado Springs’ inner core. Construction projects funded this year by the grant included the paving of an existing trail on the west side of Monument Creek in Monument Valley Park and the construction of the Legacy Plaza, a trailhead and parking area for the loop, near Fontanero Street and Recreation Way that began in May and is expected to be completed by the end of October. Also, as part of its U.S. 24 and I-25 interchange project near America the Beautiful Park, the Colorado Department of Transportation installed a bridge connecting the Loop to the Midland Trail, which parallels U.S. 24, providing a cycling/pedestrian route to the west side of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
- Bob Falcone
- Burnt terrain spans Waldo Canyon, recently reopened via Rampart Range Road.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.