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Progress expected to accelerate soon on restoring Waldo Canyon Trail after 2012 wildfire in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Within the 18,000 acres burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire ten years ago was the popular, seven-mile Waldo Canyon Trail that has yet to fully reopen after the fire.

Many former users are wondering when, or if, the trail will reopen; the trail can still be used but in many sections is extremely difficult to hike on because of fire damage, flooding and erosion.

KRDO

Between 2017 and 2020, there was a series of planning discussions and public meetings that produced three possible options for rebuilding or replacing the trail, and some preliminary restoration work by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute was done.

RMFI

Since then, not much has happened.

However, in September 2020, Colorado Springs purchased the former Black Canyon Quarry, totaling 163 acres of open space, at a cost of $6 million.

City of Colorado Springs

The U.S. Forest Service, and city officials, are considering whether the property could become a new trailhead for the Waldo Canyon Trail.

Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, said Monday that $450,000 in funding has been acquired to reclaim the quarry site and convert it to a new trailhead and parking area -- a yearlong process expected to start next year.

KRDO

The old trailhead -- along U.S. 24 in Ute Pass and not far from the wildfire's starting point -- has been permanently closed by the Forest Service and the Colorado Department of Transportation, for safety reasons.

KRDO

Davies said that in 2024, officials hope to connect the new trailhead to the Waldo Canyon trail, a distance of less than a mile, and possibly reopen the trail in 2025.

KRDO

“There is a piece of the old Waldo Canyon Trail that really isn’t that far from the Black Canyon Quarry," she explained. "The challenge is we have a huge canyon between the two. So how do we get across it? We actually have to walk up and around it, which adds probably another mile. Or, we find a way to get over it — maybe with a bridge -- which would be pretty cool.”

Davies said that the trail is the most popular in the Pike National Forest.

KRDO

A Monument couple -- Steve and Cindi Bruger -- said that they enjoyed the trail and hadn't hiked it since before the fire.

"I don't think our grandson, Jaxson, was born yet," Steve said.

KRDO

“I’m excited to hear that’s going to be refurbished and brought back," Cindi said. "I look forward to that.”

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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