Ring the Peak
by Mary Burger
Where did the idea for a trail around Pikes Peak come from? It did not simply coalesce out of thin air. There had been a movement of concerned citizens advocating for it for over forty years. There had been many public meeting and agency discussions. But, no plan had been developed. There were several versions ‘on the table’. But, as with many great ideas, without a single advocacy group it stagnated.
During the master planning process the topic of discussion was how to reduce traffic on Barr Trail. Barr Trail was and is over capacity. The proposed solutions included charging for parking, and creating a fee based permit system. Neither proposal was enforceable or palatable to the citizens group during the planning process. So, the circumnavigate Pikes Peak trail and an additional trail to the summit were proposed to divert traffic from the overused Barr Trail, and both solutions made it into the Master Plan.
A citizens group from the master planning process met separately to discuss which of the many proposed routes would receive ‘official’ designation. The concept agreed upon was that the trail should not use Barr Trail. It should connect frequently to urban access, to allow as much opportunity for parking etc., and, as much as possible, use existing non-motorized trails, and only use vehicular roads as a last resort. The group then took a copy of the Pikes Peak Atlas and drew the agreed upon route out. The route included several noticeable ‘holes’ where no trail existed:
· In the middle of the Intemann Trail.
· From the top of the historic Ute Indian trail to Cascade.
· From the utility easement on Mt Esther to the base of Crystal Reservoir.
· From the west end of Limber Pine Trail to the Forest Service road to Crags Campground
· From the end of the Crags Campground road to Putney Gulch
· And, from Pancake Rocks to Bull Park.
There were several places where we had to use vehicular roads to achieve connections. The thought was to complete the rest of the plan, then work on getting around the roads. These connections are:
· To bypass the hole in the middle of Intemann Trail
· Use Highway 24 to go from the top of the Ute trail into Cascade. Use city streets and sidewalks to go from Cascade to the base of Mt Esther trail.
· Use the dirt roads within the North Slope Recreation Area from the base of Crystal Reservoir to Limber Pine Trail.
· Use the Crags road from where we would intersect it near the Mennonite Camp to the end.
· Use High Drive to connect the Palmer Loop with the Bear Creek Trail
· And, use several off highway roads to connect Jones Park to Bull Park.
· And in the meantime connect Bull Park to Pancake Rocks using highways.
The route was submitted, and included in the Master Plan.
· The middle of Intemann has been resolved by the City of Manitou Springs.
· The top of Ute trail is still under consideration. We thought we had a resolution with CSU, but it fell apart.
· The City of Colorado Springs owned the land for the connection from Mt Esther to Crystal Reservoir and immediately gave permission to begin building that section because it would bypass the Pikes Peak Highway maintenance area. It seems there was already a problem with people hiking the utility easement into the maintenance area, and the oversized Tonka Toys were too much fun to ignore.
· The two trails from the North Slope and into Putney gulch took two years to pass NEPA and an additional 5 years to build.
· We have been unable to find any acceptable trail route from Pancake Rocks to Bull Park.
As for the motorized routes, the only one we have been successful in removing from the route has been the city street bypass of the hole in the middle of the Intemann trail. And that was not our success. That was the town of Manitou Springs’ accomplishment.