‘Major’ landslide closes one of Colorado Springs’ most popular trails | New

A landslide rated “significant” has closed one of Colorado Springs’ most popular trails.

The scenic loop known as Section 16 in the mountains southwest of the city has been cut off either side – from High Drive and closer to the main trailhead of Gold Camp Road, where the steep trail called Palmer Trail goes up to a crossroads. This closure comes at an early stage of the loop, well before the beloved lookout.

Scott Abbott, the city’s regional parks manager, said staff on Sunday became aware of “trailer-sized rocks” and tumbling trees destroying a pedestrian bridge at a well-known waterfall along a bend in the trail, closer to the High Drive side. of the loop.

Rangers found the scene “like what you would see from an avalanche in winter,” Abbott said. Following recent cycles of snow, wind and freeze-thaw, the belief is that the boulders rolled hundreds of feet overhead, Abbott said, crashing through the wood and creating a scar that he estimated to be 75 feet wide.

In his 23 years on city staff, “I’ve never seen anything so big,” Abbott said. “It’s quite impressive.”

Asked about reopening the loop, “I don’t have any timeline at this point,” he said.

Damage is located along US Forest Service property. In a statement, the agency said it is “coordinating with numerous specialists to assess the trail and determine the best course of action to address safety risks.”







closed section 16 map.jpg

The scenic loop known as Section 16 in the mountains southwest of the city has been cut off either side – from High Drive and closer to the main trailhead of Gold Camp Road, where the steep trail called Palmer Trail goes up to a crossroads.




Abbott said he expects officials to analyze the terrain to determine its stability or lack thereof — an unknown factor he says played into the city’s decision to close the entire loop, rather than the only section of the waterfall.

“We don’t want people to go all the way up and see we’ve closed a 100-foot piece of trail and decide, well, I’m going (cross) anyway,” Abbott said.

After the assessment, officials may decide to clear the hallway, Abbott said. It is also possible that an alternative will be explored, he said. The fear is that slips are still possible and that a now barren hill could mean outbursts.

“Are there possibilities and discussions of re-routing the trail to get up and around anything that may be unstable, trying to get the trail to go to a different place? We just don’t know yet .”

From Steve Bremner’s point of view, this would not be necessary.

A trail builder and local steward for the better part of two decades, Bremner ventured onto the wreckage the weekend before closing time. He took a video showing him with his dog easily maneuvering the debris.

Bremner called the slide “perhaps the biggest I’ve ever seen”. But he saw no need for the closure.

“They might see something that I haven’t noticed. I’m not perfect,” he said. “But based on my assessment, I saw no danger.”

Trails and Open Space Coalition executive director Susan Davies said she understands the decision.

“It’s such a popular trail, we all love that one, and here comes the summer and we closed that trail. It’s unfortunate,” she said. “But boy, I understand some of the rocks were the size of toy cars. We don’t want people getting hurt.”

Still, she expected some hikers, runners and mountain bikers to continue during the shutdown. So does Shanti Toll, Vice President of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon.

That’s all the more reason to make fixing the problem a high priority, he said.

“Fixing it is a matter of public safety,” he said. “If it’s that important of a trail, and it is, people are going to go for it.”

The rockslide is reminiscent of others in locally popular recreation areas.

Barr Trail has had rocks come off the hillsides, as has Palmer Park. Last year, part of Gold Camp Road was closed to vehicles for about a month before a huge boulder was cleared. Also last year, El Paso County officials closed Rainbow Falls due to a reported rockfall – a closure that is ongoing.

“Every situation and every scenario will be different depending on the terrain, the slope and the extent of the slide,” Abbott said.

This one is, indeed, different, he says. “It’s quite honestly a mess up there right now.”

Virginia F. Goins