Update July 13th, 2014 No official closure date yet but I’m hearing it’ll likely be August 18th.First the good news, the Manitou Incline will be getting some much needed repairs. Now the bad news, the Incline will be closed for about four months. The contractor hasn’t been selected yet so the exact start date isn’t known but will most likely be mid-August after the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.
The Incline has slowly been eroding since the cable car quit operating in 1990. Volunteers pounded in rebar and made other repairs over the years or the Incline would be in worse shape. Last fall’s heavy rains did considerable damage.
If hikers are caught trespassing during the closure, they could receive a $100 fine. According to project manager Sarah Bryarly, Manitou Springs police will enforce the closure.The Incline work 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 plan includes putting in a sustainable trail where the social trail connects the top of the Incline to Barr Trail. The four main goals of this project are improved safety, enhanced user experience, long-term sustainability of the trail and increased accessibility.
While the long-term sustainability of the trail is critical, I’m not sure how the user experience is going to be enhanced. One of the key things users wanted during public input meetings during the legalization process was for the Incline retain it’s rough character.
The conceptual drawing on the left that was provided by the City of Colorado Springs doesn’t seem to leave it so rugged. Of course looking at the photos above that compare a section in 1996 to it’s current condition, it appears it could be at least as rough as back then. I started hiking the Incline in 1998 and have noticed it changing over the years but didn’t realize how much.During the Incline closure the surrounding trails will remain open. These include Barr Trail, Ute Indian Trail, Intemann Trail and Red Mountain trail. The free shuttle will also continue as planned through mid September.
The project is expected to cost nearly $1.6 million. About half a million will come from FEMA because of the rain damage. The remainder will come from the Great Outdoors Colorado Grant, Colorado Springs Utilities, the State Trails Grant, the Colorado Springs CTF Program, Incline Friends, Colorado Springs TOPS Program and the Manitou Springs Barr Parking Lot Fund.
In the excellent video below, engineer Don Jacobs talks about some of the challenges of working to stabilize the Incline.
Tomorrow, May 18th, the free Manitou Incline shuttle starts running again for the summer. It will run through September 13, 2014.
The Incline bus (Route 33) will operate from 6 AM until 8 PM every day on 20 minute intervals. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays there will be a 2nd bus from 10 AM until 8 PM. The 2nd bus will be timed so there will be about 10 minutes between buses. There’s also another bus route that will service downtown Manitou. See the map of the routes here.
The Incline bus runs from the free parking lot behind the Tajine Alami Restaurant at 10 Old Mans Trail in Manitou. Park around the side and park of the restaurant and not out in front. The shuttle stop is across the street from the restaurant.
Members of the Incline Friends Board of Directors will be at the base of the Incline this Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18 to sell memberships. I’m not sure exactly the times they will be there this time but they’re typically there from about 7 AM until noon.
Memberships are $35 and they’ll take cash or credit car. Memberships support Manitou Incline maintenance. It also includes a pair of running shorts with the IF logo and a Manitou Merchants Card, good for special deals at a bunch of shops in Manitou Springs.
The Incline Friends are having their 2014 membership drive on Wednesday April 30th from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Manitou Brewing Company. Go support the Manitou Incline and learn what the Incline Friends have planned for this year.
Incline Friends membership supports the maintenance of the Incline. Annual memberships are $35 and include a pair of Incline Friends shorts. They are nice and light-weight shorts, perfect for trimming time off your Incline ascent. In addition you’ll receive a merchants card good at many locations around Manitou. The merchants are offering great discounts for patronizing their establishments.
Manitou Brewing Company is at 725 Manitou Avenue. It’s up an alley, just off Manitou Avenue, on your left as you’re entering the Manitou business district.
Last fall the Incline Friends asked the Denver Broncos for help in raising money to stabilize the Manitou Incline. The Broncos came through in a big way and donated an autographed football. Peyton Manning and 50 other players signed it.
The autographed Denver Broncos football is currently listed on eBay. All the proceeds will go to the Incline Friends for Manitou Incline maintenance. The auction will end Feb 05, 2014 at 9:12 AM PST.
To bid on eBay, click here now.
Between July 20 and December 28, 2013, hikers have made 114,619 trips up the Manitou Incline according to the Incline Counter. With years of neglect, lot of use and the heavy rains this summer and fall, the Incline needs a lot of work to stabilize it.
The plan for stabilizing the Incline calls for preserving the character of the Incline. That increases the cost of the work. $550,000 is needed to more forwarded with the needed work.
The good news is that Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) which disburses funds from state lottery proceeds awarded a generous grant that will help in restoring and stabilizing the Incline. The grant is in the amount of $350,000. That leaves another $200,000 that needs to be raised.
The next couple days is the best time to make a donation to help with Manitou Incline restoration. At the end of each year Indy Give! helps several local non-profits raise money. This year the Incline Friends was selected as one of the non-profits.
Until the end of the year, your donation through the Give! will unlock matching money. Donations of $100 or more will receive a sweet pair of socks with the Incline Friends logo AND you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a FREE parking spot for an entire year, courtesy of the Iron Springs Chateau. You also can receive cool rewards for donating through Indy Give!
There are also Give! competitions between the non-profits that could earn Incline Friends extra funds. The Give! covers all processing fees so 100% of donations go directly to Incline Friends and the other non-profits.
You love the Manitou Incline so donate now and make your donation go farther.
I hiked up the Incline yesterday morning, December 22, 2013, early to catch sunrise from the top. About an inch of snow had fallen overnight and there were still clouds off to the east. It was a beautiful morning to be on the Incline! Below are photos from the hike.
I could tell there was ice under the fresh snow in the shaded area a little above the old no trespassing sign and also above the false summit. I had heard it was mostly melted off on Saturday but I always recommend taking traction devices this time of year. If you don’t have any, check out Yaktrax, Kahtoola Microspikes or DIY screw shoes.
If you haven’t seen it, there’s a tree at the top of the Manitou Incline that people decorate for Christmas. It’s a nice tradition that has grown over the last few years.
This weekend (December 14 and 15), the Incline Friends will help you add to the decorations on the tree. The Incline Friends will be at the bottom in the mornings before noon. If you donate, they will give you an ornament that you can take to the top and put on the tree. You’ll be able to write your name and time on it.
Their email said that they’d be at the bottom of the Incline. A couple weeks ago they had their table over at the Barr Parking lot so if you don’t see them at the actual bottom, check in the Barr Parking lot.
With the sub-zero temperatures the last few days, few people have been hiking the Incline. No weather though stops everyone. Guys like Roger Austin who made his 637th trip of the year up and Joe Monger who hit #500 for the year the day after Thanksgiving don’t let much stop them from being on the Incline.
The adverse winter conditions can create some of the most beautiful scenes of the year. Thanks to Reece Hein for permission to share the photo above. Thanks also to Roger Austin for the photos below including the tree at the top that is looking great with all the Christmas ornaments.