After being closed for three months for repairs, the Manitou Incline will reopen Friday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. with a reopening celebration.
Organizers ask that people park in the Cog parking lot at 515 Ruxton Ave.
The Incline’s phase one construction has been completed to repair the steepest sections of the Incline and protect it from further erosion and damage due to future storm events and public use.
The Incline project’s four major goals are improved safety, enhanced user experience, long-term sustainability of the trail and increased accessibility. Work on the Incline included 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.
Under the ownership of Dr. Newton Brumback, the Manitou Incline was originally built as a one-mile cable tram to provide 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 percent, reaching 68 percent 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 U.S. 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 a 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.