Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obstacles remain in campaign to complete trail around Pikes Peak

They battled for access to Ute Pass and celebrated victory when Manitou Springs secured passage across Iron Mountain. But can Ring the Peak Trail advocates overcome "the Big No" in Victor? Not if the straight-talking leaders of the former mining enclave have anything to say about it. "Absolutely not," said Victor City Administrator Debra Downs of the community's position on permitting a trail corridor along Bison Reservoir, a municipal water source outside Victor that's secured under lock and key, reserved since the 1950s for the use of the private Gold Camp Fishing Club. "You can't even put your feet in it," she added. After more than 15 years of grinding negotiations and incremental gains, the fight to complete a 70-mile trail around America's Mountain has come down to a final, missing segment. It spans 8 forbidding miles on Pikes Peak's southwestern face. Bridging it will mean changing hearts and minds in Victor, population 2,000; winning a path through Cripple Creek's municipal watershed; and getting the stamp of approval from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and a host of private interests dotting the way. It's a tall order, but a new initiative to close the gap appears to be picking up steam, thanks in part to support from on high. At a meeting called by state Sen. Michael Merrifield in Colorado Springs last month, trail advocates were joined by Luis Benitez, who heads up Gov. John Hickenlooper's newly created Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry...more

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