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The Incline Challenge is set to open Thanksgiving day as part of the first round of recreational offerings at Rueter-Hess Reservoir in northeast Douglas County, near Parker. Photo courtesy Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority 

A little sibling of the Manitou Incline is ready for its public debut, just in time for fitness fanatics to work off that turkey feast.

The Incline Challenge, as a local government collaboration is calling it, is set to open Thanksgiving Day at the budding recreation hub around Rueter-Hess Reservoir in northeast Douglas County, near Parker.

"We know that residents have been anxiously waiting for regular recreation activities to open," said Darcy Beard, president of Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority, in a press release announcing the opening. "We are very happy to have Phase 1 complete and the Incline ready for public use."

Phase 1 of the 2016 master plan for the reservoir — constructed in 2012 to meet increasing drinking water demand — also calls for other trails around the spine of wooden steps. From the top, a loop spans about a mile back to the Incline Challenge base, at a parking lot off Heirloom Parkway. The trails are set to be open daily from sunup to sundown starting next Thursday.

For those familiar with the Manitou Incline and the Challenge Hill in Castle Rock, think more of the latter.

The Challenge Hill is billed as having 200 steps that climb 178 feet, while the new Incline Challenge is composed of 132 steps. The 2016 master plan envisioned it as "provid(ing) a destination for families" with "the opportunity to gain 200 feet."

The Manitou Incline, meanwhile, boasts nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain in close to a mile. Despite their differences, the similarities have proven popular; the new stair stepper is poised to be an attraction like its predecessors in Manitou Springs and Philip S. Miller Park, where regulars are known to lap the Challenge Hill.

The recreation plan around Rueter-Hess Reservoir lists about 17 planned miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Fishing and nonmotorized boating is also expected on the 1,170-acre water surface, framed by sandstone bluffs.

The press release indicated "a grand opening event" will be held in the spring, upon the anticipated completion of the East-West Regional Trail, the nearly 20-mile path running from Chatfield State Park to Parker that will connect with trails around the Incline Challenge.

The release noted the opening could change depending on COVID-19 restrictions.


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