The incline project has four major goals: improved safety; enhanced user experience; long-term sustainability of the trail; and increased accessibility.
Work on the incline will include 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.
History of the Mt. Manitou Incline
Under the ownership of Dr. Newton Brumback, the Manitou Incline was originally constructed as a 1-mile cable tram for the purpose of providing 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 10 miles of hiking trails in Mt. Manitou Park, and claimed to be the “longest and highest incline on the globe.”
After a rock slide in 1990 damaged the rails, the rails were removed and some area residents began hiking up the ties. As of Feb. 1, 2013, it is legal to hike the incline.
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, 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, according to the city of Colorado Springs.
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 development of a Site Development and Management Plan to address these issues, allow the incline to open for legal use and to capitalize on the incline’s benefits.
The incline is officially open and legal for recreational use.