September 26, 2017

Long-dreamed Pikes Peak trail set for construction

By: Seth Boster

After many years of dreaming, planning and waiting, outdoors enthusiasts expect machines next month to enter an unrealized quadrant of Pikes Peak, where the trail known as Missing Link will be built.

“It’s been very frustrating in that we’ve had to jump through a ton of hoops to get here, but I think the end product will be worth the wait,” said Eric Vaillancourt with Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, the local mountain bike group that’s worked on the project with city parks and landowner Colorado Springs Utilities.

The final hoop – advocates have their fingers crossed, at least – was last week acquiring a stormwater permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Earlier this summer, Medicine Wheel was approved for $80,000 from the state’s Non-Motorized Trails Grant program, capping the nonprofit’s $120,000 fundraising goal.

Fort Collins-based Singletrack Trails has been selected to construct the 4-mile path along Pikes Peak’s South Slope. Builders are scheduled to spend 3 1/2 weeks in October on the officially named Lake Moraine Trail.

Should weather in the high-alpine territory halt the job, the plan would be to finish in the spring, Vaillancourt said. Either way, he said, the expectation is to have an opening ceremony at some point that season.

Signs are to be posted at each of the trail’s access points: at Mountain View, just before Barr Camp on the way up Pikes Peak, and at Trail 667 in the area known as Jones Park, reached from North Cheyenne Cañon Park.

“Those are essentially gonna make trail users aware of what they’re in for,” Vaillancourt said of the signs, “that there aren’t any real authorized bailout points, and to only embark on the trail if you’re prepared for a remote, primitive experience above 10,000 feet.”

For mountain bikers, the anticipation has reached beyond Colorado Springs; the vision is for the ride to be among the most epic in the West. Singletrack Trails is also behind beloved trails in Fruita as well as local favorites in Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Ute Valley Park.

Colorado Springs Utilities met long-held wishes by approving the Lake Moraine Trail in 2010 as the agency announced it would allow the public to explore its chain of reservoirs protected for a century. While the South Slope Recreation Area was developed, the trail to Moraine hit a standstill as the U.S. Forest Service announced it would reroute Jones Park as part of its Bear Creek watershed project – a project just now coming to a close.

Along with the pristine lake, hikers, bikers and equestrians will behold new views of America’s Mountain as they traverse high meadows and aspen stands. The trail will allow a new route to the 14,115-foot summit for users who enter through North Cheyenne Cañon Park and connect with Barr Trail.

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