Mt. Manitou Scenic Incline (Railway)

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The Incline as viewed from Highway 24
The Incline as viewed from Highway 24

Purpose of this page
The purpose of this page is to serve as a repository for accurate information with regard to the Incline. Additional information will be posted here as it becomes available.

Current state of the Incline
The Incline is not open to the public for any use — PERIOD! That people are going up the Incline only means they are trespassing on private property! Indeed, the Incline has been clearly posted “No Trespassing” since June of 2000. Talk of the Incline being “closed” is a misnomer in that something that is not open can not be closed. However, rather extensive and ongoing efforts are taking place to work with the owners of the Incline to get it open to the public. Please see the section “Efforts to Open the Incline to the Public” below for details.

The Incline What is the Incline?
In brief, the Incline as it exists now is the roadbed to the former Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway — a cable car that took people up the eastern face of Rocky Mountain to about 8,600' before shutting down in 1990. The steepest section is at a grade of 68% with the average grade just over 40%. For a more complete history of the Incline, including why it was originally built, please read the story “Life on the Incline - A 3-part Story” in the section below titled “Incline in the News.”

Who owns the Incline?
The land the Incline was built on is owned by three entities. The approximate bottom 25% is owned by the City of Colorado Springs, the middle 50% is owned by the COG Railway and the top 25% is owned by the Forest Service. For a visual representation of this please see the maps at the bottom of this page.

Incline in the News
What follows are archived news stories which will allow you to gain a fairly decent understanding of the history of the Incline and the controversy that surrounds it.
Manitou rail scar unlikely to heal soon Gazette - 12/10/1996
Inclined to train? Go somewhere else Gazette - 7/17/1997
Upwardly Mobile - about the Incline Club Gazette - 7/24/1999
Private property or not, incline offers challenge Gazette - 7/24/1999
Fight over Cog an uphill battle Gazette - 6/15/2000 - (Also 3 letters to the editor)
Life on the Incline - A 3-Part Story Friends of the Peak newsletters - Fall 2000, Spring & Fall 2001
Old Manitou incline off-limits Gazette - 5/20/2003 - (Also a letter to the editor)
Update on the Incline Friends of the Peak newsletter - Spring 2004
Uphill Battle Colorado Springs Independent - 4/9/2004
Signs point to Incline deal Gazette - 5/23/2004

Efforts to Open the Incline to the Public
As should be obvious from the articles posted above a great deal of controversy surrounds the use of the Incline by people who use it as part of their exercise routine. Over the past several years, it appears that the use of the Incline has increased although there have not been any formal efforts to determine the actual number of people using it on a regular basis. It is not uncommon to see people ages 7-70 using the Incline as well as Olympic athletes and members of the military.

Although several people have informally taken on the role of maintaining the Incline, there have been no formal steps taken by any of the property owners to maintain the Incline since 1997. It appeared that there was a growing need to begin a dialogue between all of the property owners concerning the feasibility of opening the Incline to the public and to develop a long term strategy for maintenance and stabilization. A feasibility plan for opening the Incline to the public was prepared.

Feasibility Plan

One of the first issues from the feasibility plan addressed was the organizational structure. At the October 20, 2003 Friends of the Peak meeting the need for a non-profit home for the efforts of the Friends of the Incline was brought up. After discussion by the FOTP board a resolution was passed unanimously which read:

The first meeting with a property owner took place on October 31, 2003. This meeting with the management of the COG Railway was held to determine what their issues and needs were with regard to the Upper Ruxton Canyon area.

October 31, 2003 meeting summary

Starting in December 2003, a series of meetings were held involving all three property owners and a representative of Friends of the Peak. The meetings were facilitated by Mary Lou Makepeace, former mayor of Colorado Springs and Ken Jaray, a local attorney-mediator and Executive Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution.

The purpose of the meetings was to discuss the current status of not only the Incline but the increasing use of upper Ruxton Canyon as well as to determine the interests and needs of all three property owners. The feasibility plan was reviewed by the participants. Although the initial discussions concerned the possible public use of the Incline, there were serious concerns raised by the Forest Service that the Incline would not qualify for use as a trail within the National Forest system.

December 5, 2003 meeting summary
January 26, 2004 meeting summary
February 19, 2004 meeting summary

On April 15, 2004 the owners, several individuals from the community, and a representative of Friends of the Peak met for a hike up the Incline. This was not a meeting to debate the issues. Instead the purpose of the walkthrough was to assess the condition of the Incline as viewed from several perspectives; 1) what it would take to make the Incline a usable structure with partial revegetation (on the sides) and 2) what it would take to completely revegetate it. It was made clear that doing an assessment from either perspective did not mean anyone was endorsing that perspective. Photos from the walkthrough to come.

Before the walkthrough Bill Nelson of the Pikes Peak Ranger District passed out a memorandum he had received from Mark Hesse of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. The purpose of the memorandum was to provide some general comments on design alternatives for the stabilization and rehabilitation of the Incline.

Memorandum from Mark Hesse of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute

On May 20, 2004 a meeting was held to discuss the findings from the walkthrough. In addition, a draft of the Upper Ruxton Canyon Recreation Use Plan was looked over.

May 20, 2004 meeting summary
Opinions from Forest Service specialists (Draft)
Upper Ruxton Canyon Recreation Use Plan (Draft)

Next step: Two groups have been formed to study the various issues involved with the possible recreational use of the Incline. One group will consider the legal/ownership issues. The other group will consider parking issues. These groups are expected to report back to the full group in approximately 60 days with specific recommendations.

Things stayed in limbo for a couple of years and then was picked up by a taskforce working with the various owners. That info can be found here.

Photos and Maps
Incline as viewed from the bottom Incline as viewed from the top

Incline - Satellite view

Incline - Satellite  view with property lines

Incline - Satellite view with property shading

Incline - Major property owners

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