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Ready, set ... legally climb the Incline
Attention scofflaws, law-breakers, trespassers and minor criminals.
If you’re among the hundreds of thousands who climb the Manitou Incline each year, you’ve had to live with the ignominy of violating the law, even if it is probably the most-broken law in the Pikes Peak region.
That ends Friday.
As of dawn, 7:05 a.m., it’s no longer considered trespassing to climb the railroad ties that run 2,000 feet up a mountainside. The cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs have signed an agreement to manage the trail and both agreed that 13 conditions for legally opening it have been met or soon will be.
Maybe you’re new to the Incline or you stopped doing it and are looking to restart. Or maybe you are one of those who do it four times a week but could use a refresher course on the rules — dog owners, you know who you are.
So here is a guide to visiting the Incline, improving your time and maybe winning some prizes.
RULES AND ETIQUETTE
Now that the trail officially is open, there can be no denying that the rules adopted by the cities are in force.
• No dogs allowed. Waste became a serious concern on the trail, as did the potential of injuries from off-leash and leashed dogs.
• Hours are dawn to dusk. Pre-dawn car doors and hikers’ head lamps disturb neighbors, and is it really safe to be 2,000 feet up a steep trail in the dark?
• Uphill access only. Help keep trail traffic jams to a minimum by descending on Barr Trail.
• Exercise good trail etiquette while getting your exercise. Slower hikers should stay to the right to let faster ones pass. Stick to designated trails. Pack out your trash. Use bathrooms at the trailhead before you start.
Officials say they are counting on Incline users to police themselves, by obeying the rules and encouraging others to do likewise, though Manitou Mayor Marc Snyder says he might consider having police enforce them if there is widespread non-compliance.
Manitou officials are working on a parking plan for Ruxton Avenue and downtown areas, but for now there is little method to the madness.
If you want close-up parking, you can pay $5 in the Barr Trail lot, though the lot is usually full by 6 a.m. Turn right up a steep road just past the Cog Railway. Never, ever park in the Cog’s parking lot, as you will at the very least get yelled at and might get towed.
You also can pay $5 to park in the Iron Springs Chateau lot. For free parking, cruise Ruxton Avenue and look for a space, making sure not to block any driveways or fire hydrants. On busy days, you might go into downtown to find a spot.
Enjoy the free parking now because the city is finalizing a plan to have pay-to-park kiosks along Ruxton and Manitou avenues, and permits for residents.
From May to September, you can park behind the Tajine Alami restaurant, on Old Man’s Trail, and ride a free shuttle to the trailhead.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR TIME
• Though not as big a problem in winter, avoid climbing during the heat of the day, as dehydration and exhaustion can slow you.
• Park several blocks away and jog up to the trailhead so you will be warmed up when you start.
• Keep a steady pace from the beginning and push yourself on the more gradual sections.
• Strengthen your quads and calves by doing 20-second intervals, taking two stairs at a time. Repeat five to 10 times on your ascent.