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Incline influx: What's being done to accommodate?

Incline Influx

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The incline in Manitou Springs attracts thousands of people to southern Colorado every year. But lately, it's been so crowded that hikers say it's ruining their experience.

The Incline is considered as an expert hike, but that's not stopping people from climbing.

"I do it about two or three times a week on average," said Wolfgang Stiller, from Colorado Springs.

Over the past year, Stiller says he's noticed a big change.

"It's probably factor of five times more of what I'm used to. It's going up a lot since the incline has gotten so popular," Stiller said.

Even the tourists have noticed.

"People keep wanting to pass you, then people are coming down and makes it harder to enjoy the experience as much," said Edite Maloku, from Denver.

We asked: Is there a cap on how many people are allowed on it?

"There is no daily limit. If you come here on a summer weekend, it's crowded. There's been as many as several thousand trips a day," said David Adair, president of Incline Friends, a local non-profit group.

To get a good idea of how many people use the incline everyday, there are two sensors located up the trail that count. We looked at that data and it revealed since the new year, there have been nearly 73,000 trips up the incline. For the month of May, 15,000 trips.

"All this traffic is putting a heavy load on the Barr trail so part of the master plan is to build a trail to the north which will then come back down to the base of the incline," said Adair.

It will be called the northern trail, and will help alleviate traffic, but it could take years to build. In the meantime, hikers have to continue using the Barr trail to get down.

"I won't even go on the Barr trail in the morning because there's so many people walking down it. I hate it, I won't do it," said Sele Kelly, from Colorado Springs.

The good news: The third phase of repairs on the incline begins in August. Crews will install new retaining walls, plus a new trail-head facility with restrooms is in the works.

The incline will be closed from August to December for the third phase of repairs.

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