Elected leaders in the Cripple Creek/Victor district and members of the Trails and Open Space Coalition don’t want to hike the same scenic route, when it comes to the proposed Ring the Peak link in southern Teller.
But last week, the Cripple Creek City Council agreed to support the coalition’s bid for a trail planning grant from the Great Outdoors Colorado, as part of a Connect (Colorado) Initiative Trail process. With this grant, the coalition could get some assistance in finalizing one of the last remaining gap areas in the multi-use trail that surrounds Pikes Peak and encompasses a 70-mile-plus area, crossing federal, state, county, city and private lands. This trail, which dates back to the 1990s, has been a big hit with hikers, tourists and recreation buffs. It also has been endorsed by Governor John Hickenlooper.
Moreover, the coalition, through this grant effort, could enlist the help of a professional consultant in finalizing a route and assuring that the vital interests of stakeholders, including Cripple Creek and Victor, are protected.
In southern Teller, the Ring the Peak route has hit a few major hurdles, with concerns by local leaders about endangering nearby reservoirs. Plus, officials want to assure that final route offers an economic boost to the host communities, one of the objectives of the Ring the Peak system.
Local leaders and trail coalition representatives are slightly at odds regarding where the route should be located in southern Teller
“We support the trail in concept,” said Cripple Creek City Admnistrator Ray DuBois, who stressed that local leaders have no problems with the vision of the Ring the Peak project.
He stated that where the route would be located, outside Cripple Creek, has been an area of much debate. More importantly, the city doesn’t want to endanger their reservoirs in Gillette, its prime sources of water.”Without those reservoirs, Cripple Creek doesn’t exist,” said DuBois, in a previous article in The Mountain Jackpot. “The city is concerned that there is an increased danger of wildfire.” In addition, DuBois said leaders would like to see the route occur in an area that would bring Ring the Peak users into the communities of Cripple Creek and Victor.
But the city administrator sated that discussions with the trail coalition representatives have been quite positive.
And in a new letter of support for the project, Cripple Creek Mayor Bruce Brown made it clear that Cripple Creek wants to be a major player in the final decision. “The city recognizes that such a planning effort is intended to bring to light the many interrelated pieces of the puzzle, when considering the development of a trial in remote and biologically diverse and sensitive areas,” sated Brown in a letter of support.
“The city does not hold that public trails must or will be established in the gap areas, but rather, it is the expectation for the city that the planning efforts will result in recommendation for whether the trails should or should not be established, and if so, where. The city expresses is willingness to participate in the process, and further, it is expected that the city will have an equal seat at the table throughout the planning and decision-making process.”
With the coalition’s grant bid, the Ring the Peak segment in southern Teller won’t occur anytime soon. If a consultant is hired, that person must deal with competing interests in devising a final route in southern Teller, one of final parts of the trail that is about 90 percent complete.