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Temporary closing of Manitou Incline begins Friday night

Popular trail scheduled for repair work

Hikers prepare for Manitou Incline...

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Hikers are scrambling to enjoy the final days on the Manitou Incline before it closes Friday evening for repair work.

The trail will close Friday night, prior to this weekend's annual Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, with repairs beginning Monday and completion expected in December.

Hiking activity on the trail was steady on Wednesday but not overly busy.

"It was busy at times," said Elizabeth Youngquist of Colorado Springs.  "I think there were some busloads of kids hiking part of the day."

Dennis Walker, of Cincinnati, was among many hikers unaware of the upcoming closure.

"It would have been disappointing if a challenge like the Incline was unavailable," he said.

Most hikers appeared to be aware of the scheduled closure and wanted to enjoy the Incline one more time -- or for the first time, in Kevin Slattery's case.

"I've never hiked it, always wanted to and thought I'd better do it now," he said.

Incline neighbors, like John Posusta, welcome the closure as a respite from foot and vehicular traffic.

"They're closing it after most of the summer tourists have left," he said.  "When I moved here a year ago, I expected lots of hikers.  But I think there are too many.  I'm constantly being asked directions and where people can park."

Repairs will focus on the upper third of the Incline, following similar work done on the lower two-thirds in recent years.

"That's the steepest and most challenging section to repair," said Steve Bodette of the Colorado Springs Department of Parks and Recreation.  "It's easier for loose rocks and timbers to fall down the trail.  That's why we don't want people on it then."

Bodette said barricades will be placed in three Incline locations: at the base, at the bail-out point in the middle and at the top near the work area.

As before, the city will ask El Paso County sheriff's deputies to provide security during the repair period.

The city is paying for the work with a $2 million federal grant.

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