Re-imagine Waldo Canyon meeting draws large crowd, presents access alternatives 

On April 17th, more than 150 people attended the "Re-Imagine Waldo Canyon" public workshop at the Westside Community Center. The event was the second of three workshops intended to get public input on future use and access to the once very popular hiking and cycling destination just west of Colorado Springs. The area was destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012 and closed by the U.S. Forest Service until 2017. Although open to public use, the original trailhead on Highway 24 remains closed, making access to the area difficult.
click to enlarge BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Attendees at the workshop were presented with a summary of concerns and comments gathered at the first workshop, the results of a site assessment survey, and a summary of potential recreational uses and activities for the area. Pike National Forest District Ranger Oscar Martinez detailed administrative components for the Waldo Canyon area, the most significant being access via Rampart Range Road.

According to Martinez, gates used to seasonally close the road between the Garden of the Gods and Rampart Reservoir may be moved to allow access to Waldo Canyon, if the final plans for the area call for it.

David Deitemeyer from the Colorado Springs Parks Department presented three possible trail and access alternatives for the area. Alternative A includes two access points, both on Rampart Range Road, and 11.6 miles of trails. Alternative B has 29.8 miles of trails and four access points, three of which on Rampart Range Road and the fourth from the Black Canyon Quarry, located above and west of the Cedar Heights residential community. Alternative C has 39.7 miles of trails, and eight access points, six from Rampart Range Road, one from Black Canyon Quarry and one from the town of Cascade, to the west of Waldo Canyon.

Workshop presenters were careful to note that all the proposed access points and trail alignments were only conceptual, and locations may change or never actually be developed depending on a myriad of factors, including land ownership and public access.

Here are the detailed maps of Parks Department alternatives:
After presentations attendees broke into groups to examine the alternatives and provide comments on each. Most groups seemed to favor alternative B, with C falling out of favor due to concerns about how to manage traffic if access is granted from Cascade. Other concerns were raised about the effect of Black Canyon Quarry access on the Cedar Heights community, as well as the variety of activities that would be allowed within Waldo Canyon.

The next public workshop will be held Wednesday, October 23rd at the Westside Community Center from 6-8:30pm. In the meantime, Re-Imagine Waldo Canyon stakeholders and roundtable members will continue working on access to the area, trail alignments, and examining and addressing the comments gathered at the public workshops. Click here for more information.

In other news, Colorado Springs' second "Motorless Morning" will take place in the Garden of the Gods Park Saturday, April 20, from 5am to noon. During that time no motor vehicles will be allowed in the park, allowing unimpeded foot and bicycle traffic on all the roads in the park.

Saturday marks the beginning of National Park Week with free admission to all National Park Service sites. The nearest NPS site to Colorado Springs is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, about 40 miles west of the Springs. The monument happens to be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a NPS site this year.

Happy Trails!  

Bob Falcone, a retired firefighter, is a photographer, hiker, and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 27 years and is also a part time desert rat. He is chair of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board, a member of the Colorado Springs TOPS Working Committee, and is a former president of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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