The first phase of the Northern Incline Return Trail is now complete! Try out one of these return trails on your next Incline trek.

The City of Colorado Springs announced Thursday the opening of two new return trails on the Manitou Incline. Designed for shorter hikes, the routes make the Incline more appealing to those not looking for a nearly mile-long trek to the top. One return route is located near the Incline's midway point (railroad tie 1,300); the other is closer to the bottom at railroad tie 395. 

The return trail at tie 395 connects to the Ute Pass Regional Trail and takes hikers back to the bottom of the Incline is less than a half-mile. The trail at tie 1,300 also connects to the Ute Trail and takes hikers back down the mountain in 1.5 miles. 

In a press release on the Colorado Springs' website, Parks Director Karen Palus said that the goal of the new trails is to enhance three aspects of the Incline experience: 

  • Appeal to hikers who don't want to traverse the entire Incline, visitors who underestimate the trail's difficulty, or those who may simply want a way down beside the Barr Trail
  • Help first responders in emergencies
  • Relieve foot traffic on the notoriously crowded Barr Trail

"This project has been years in the making and wouldn't have been possible without critical collaboration from the community and partner organizations," she said. 

The entire project was fully funded by Incline Friends, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving and sustaining the Manitou Incline and its resources. The organization provided $32,000 for the new trails construction as well as funding for additional development. 

"The new return trails provide magnificent views, offer a comfortable tread, and, most importantly, help support a safer and more positive experience," Incline Friends president Bill Beagle said in the press release. 

The second phase of the Northern Incline Return Trail construction will begin at railroad tie 1,300 and to the top of the Incline. Since the planned return trail would partially run through the Pike National Forest, developers will need approval from the U.S. Forest Service before breaking ground. 

The new trails come just a month after the Manitou Incline officially reopened with a new reservation system. The free reservation system limits foot traffic and enhances physical distancing procedures put in place due to COVID-19. Read more about it here

Are you looking forward to trying out one of the new return trails? Leave a comment below.