Bennet Introduces Bill to Open Access to Popular Manitou Incline Trail

Bill Would Clear Bureaucratic Hurdle, Advance Local Plan to Open, Maintain Trail

With support from area leaders and the Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs communities, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has introduced a bill that would help open access to the Manitou Incline Trail.

It is currently illegal to hike the trail because it crosses private property owned by the Mt. Manitou Park and Incline Railway Company. The trail is nevertheless popular with hikers—as many as 500,000 per year, according to local officials. Bennet’s bill is a key step in a locally supported plan to open the Incline as a recreation trail, improving conditions so that hikers may access it legally and safely. U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has introduced a companion bill in the House.

“About half a million people ‘trespass’ on the Incline every year. Creating conditions that are safe will be a relief to users and create new recreational opportunities for this unique asset,” Bennet said. “Leaders from Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs have a plan to ensure that users can enjoy the trail legally and safely. This bill is an important step in that process.

“Tourism is an important economic driver in Colorado, and an open, safe Manitou Incline Trail would provide a great boost to the area.”

Bennet’s bill, which is cosponsored by Senator Mark Udall, would allow the U.S. Forest Service to accept the Mt. Manitou Park and Incline Railway Company’s relinquishment of the old railroad right of away – a requirement by federal law that would clear the way for the city of Colorado Spring’s Site Development and Management Plan, which would launch an engineering study to identify necessary steps to stabilize and improve the condition of the trail to open it for legal use.