As the season turns with hope lingering for snow to fall across a dry region, clear skies could benefit Colorado Springs mountain lovers who long have waited for a promised adventure.
The Lake Moraine Trail, known for years as the Missing Link, could be finished this summer if builders can start soon.
“Our target would be, if weather holds, to have work happen in April and May and be done by June,” said David Deitemeyer, city parks’ project leader.
Half of the trail was built last fall, as crews were allowed to board the Pikes Peak Cog Railway – a convenient way for them to reach the spur from Mountain View near Barr Camp.
Good thing that was before the railway’s indefinite closure, said Eric Vaillancourt, of the nonprofit Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates. “Otherwise, we would’ve been screwed,” he said.
Now the city’s contractor is set to start from Pikes Peak’s South Slope to build the third and fourth segments, completing the nearly 4½-mile trail.
That would end what Vaillancourt called “a huge undertaking,” beginning as a dream to explore an untrammeled swath of America’s Mountain.
Cyclists have coveted Missing Link for a high-alpine ride to rival Salida’s Monarch Crest Trail.
Medicine Wheel, responsible for some of the area’s most beloved singletrack, got the OK to plan in 2010 when Colorado Springs Utilities agreed to open land barred for generations. Then the agency pulled back the pact, citing the U.S. Forest Service’s mandate to reroute trails away from Bear Creek with a rare species of trout.
With that work complete, and with Medicine Wheel receiving a Non-Motorized Trails grant from the state, the nonprofit last year partnered with the city to hire Singletrack Trails. The Fraser-based company created Fruita’s Pumps, Bumps and Rollers, among other favorite trails across the state.
“Colorado Springs has always had great mountain biking, but it has not been at the forefront of the region’s profile. This trail is really gonna put it on the map,” Vaillancourt said.
The glacier-formed area around Lake Moraine – or Mystic Lake, as colonists knew the water above 10,200 feet – will be just one grand site along the way. The singletrack will flow through pristine, stream-fed valleys, rising into dense woods and aspen groves and clearings with newfound vistas.
Long-distance enthusiasts on foot or bike will have a new route to Pikes Peak, beginning in North Cheyenne Cañon and connecting with Barr Trail.
Signs will mark two trailheads: one at the end of Trail 667, also known as Cap’n Jacks, and one at Mountain View, where users will cross the cog tracks to continue the journey on the other side.
The signs will “emphasize that this is a remote, primitive trail with limited cell phone coverage and limited escape routes,” Vaillancourt said. “We want to make sure people are experienced and prepared for what they’re about to embark on.”
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