Beginning Monday, August 18, the Incline will be closed for about four months as repair workers begin on a $1,586,486 improvement project. Construction is expected to be completed in December.
The project, according to city officials has four major goals: improved safety, enhanced user experience, long-term sustainability of the trail and increased accessibility.
Work on the Incline will include repair and replacement of damaged retaining walls, cleanup of rebar and loose debris, construction of additional drainage structures, stabilization of existing ties and stabilization of surrounding slopes. The new drainage structures will significantly reduce the velocity of water, a critical factor in reducing erosion and ensuring the Incline’s long-term sustainability.
Funding for the project comes from the following sources:
• FEMA -$556,486
• Great Outdoors Colorado Grant - $350,000
• Colorado Springs Utilities - $250,000
• State Trails Grant - $200,000
• Colorado Springs CTF Program - $80,000
• Incline Friends - $60,000
• Colorado Springs TOPS Program -$50,000
• Manitou springs Barr Parking Lot Fund - $40,000
Area officials note that during construction, Barr Trail, Ute Indian Trail, Interman Trail, Red Mountain Trail, and the COG Railway will remain open in their entirety.
"These facilities are within walking distance of the Incline and utilize the community shuttle stop as the incline. Manitou springs will continue to operate its free community shuttle with a drop off location at the Iron Springs Chateau," says a joint release from Manitou springs and Colorado Springs.
Hiking the Incline during construction will be prohibited for safety reasons.
"The Incline will be closed while the the trail is under construction. While the construction is underway, equipment will be in use and the hiking surface will be impacted. Staging of materials will be located at the base of the Incline. Please give construction crews a break and resit the urge to to sneak up the Incline while no one is looking," releases from the city say.
"Citations will be issued for anyone trespassing on the Incline during construction. The citation will be $100. Please adhere to the closure or you will be ticketed," city officials said.
History of the Mt. Manitou Incline
Under the ownership of Dr. Newton Brumback, the Manitou Incline was originally constructed as a one-mile cable tram for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity-fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. Shortly after its completion in 1907, the tram was opened as a tourist attraction. The Incline boasted a 16-minute ride to “scenic splendors” and ten miles of hiking trails in Mt. Manitou Park, and claimed to be the “longest and highest incline on the globe.”
The Incline’s 2,741 steps make up one of the most challenging and popular recreation sites in the nation. The trail is a one-mile ascent with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, and the average grade is 43%, reaching 68% at the steepest point. Nearly 20 years of unmanaged trespass and use of the Incline have resulted in significant erosion on the mountainside and dangerous trail conditions.
In 2010, the three property owners - Colorado Springs Utilities, the COG Railway, and the US Forest Service – together with the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, agreed that serious safety and liability concerns, including the trail’s condition and impact on nearby neighborhoods, called for development of a Site Development and Management Plan to address these issues, allow the Incline to open for legal use and to capitalize on the Incline’s benefits. The Incline is now officially open and legal for recreational use.