This story was saved from the 7/17/1997 Out There section of the

GT OnLine


By Deb Acord/The Gazette

Inclined to train? Go somewhere else

Let’s take a hike that starts on private property and heads straight up a lung-busting 65-percent grade. Who needs switchbacks or water bars? Just watch out for loose boulders and splintery railroad ties.

We’re talking about the jagged vertical scar that used to be the railroad bed for the Manitou Incline.

The incline, a train that was pulled up Mount Manitou by cables, closed in 1990. In its prime, it was a popular way for hikers to access Barr Trail without climbing the first grueling three miles of switchbacks. Today, the incline is still popular among a small cadre of runners and hikers who use it for conditioning.

The first third of the mile-long stretch is owned by the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway; the rest is on national forest land. There aren’t any signs barring hikers, but those who care about the mountain say “please stay off.”

Small revegetation projects have been attempted, but some of the natural revegetation has been thwarted by foot traffic, says Spencer Wren, transportation manager for the Cog. Even runners who have used the trail admit that perhaps the best approach would be to close it and allow it to heal.

“Probably the best bet would be to cordon it off and reveg the sides, and do something with water barriers, so it doesn’t become a slide,” says Nancy Hobbs, executive director and founder of the All American Trail Running Association. For now, the incline remains the same, boulders, scree and all.

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