The Board of El Paso County Commissioners has unanimously approved an agreement to partner with Colorado Springs Utilities that allows for the extension of the Ute Pass Regional Trail.
The trail was this region’s main route west more than 200 years ago. Today, the unmaintained and unmonitored “social trail” is frequently used by local hikers. But now, the trail will have improvements including wildfire mitigation. It will be widened and maintained by El Paso County Parks. The section of trail approved today will begin in Manitou Springs and share the trailhead for the Incline. It will follow US Highway 24 to the west as it runs about 3.5 miles with at an interpretive loop at the top. The official opening is slated before the end of 2013.
“This long-awaited and historic trail loop connection from Manitou Springs to the Ute Pass area will provide our community with both recreational and interpretive educational opportunities for trail users in our region,” said Commissioner Sallie Clark, whose district includes the trail. “El Paso County appreciates the collaborative partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities, and the unanimous support of our County Parks Board, demonstrates the importance of this historic trail. This is an example of how El Paso County and our Parks Division strive to contribute to the quality of life in our area and provide multi-use transportation options for our citizens. We look forward to moving ahead on this project as a link to the American Discovery Trail and working with the Ute Pass residents in additional phases of the trail system.”
A grant from Colorado Department of Natural Resources will help pay for the 3.5 miles extension that runs from Manitou Springs to Longs Ranch Road. The land is owned by the City of Colorado Springs and managed by CSU. Manitou Springs supports the project and is contributing $2,500. “It’s an important trail for Manitou Springs,” said Manitou Springs Planning Director Dan Folke. “Trails and access to trails increases the quality of life for all our residents.”
The Trails and Open Space Coalition approves this move forward, said Bill Turner who was representing the coalition. “This is a great opportunity for the region. A lot of people are using it now.”
County Parks constructed the first section of the trail in 2003 linking Green Mountain Falls to the Ute Pass Elementary School. This trail section is used for recreation purposes and also provides a safe pedestrian path to the elementary school. The second section was constructed in
2004-05 linking Green Mountain Falls to the Teller County line. In 2008, Green Mountain Falls added an on-road trail through town. When complete the trail will be 11 miles and stretch from Manitou Springs to the Teller County line. The trail will also serve as a component of the American Discovery Trail.
Community Services Director Tim Wolken said, “The mission of El Paso County Parks includes the development of a regional trail system that links cities, towns, parks, and recreation areas.”
The Ute Pass Historical Society will assist with an interpretive kiosk providing information on the rich history of Ute Pass. The kiosk will also include information on Native American culture, highlighting rock cairns, medicine wheels, Ute forts and spiritual trees. In addition to the kiosk, an interactive rock cairn and medicine wheel will be placed along the trail to provide hands-on educational opportunities.
Contact: Dave Rose
Public Information Officer
Phone: 520-6540 Cell: 337-9239