Ring the Peak
This has been quite a year for our Ring the Peak project. Governor Hickenlooper and Mayor Suthers both gave shout-outs for our project at the El Pomar Heritage Series event held on May 13th. We have gained support from lots of different groups and there is clearly momentum behind completing this long-standing goal of Friends of the Peak. Everyone recognizes the need to provide more ways to get Coloradans outdoors where they can improve their health and enjoy the beautiful country that attracted so many of us to Colorado.
Completing the Ring will provide a wonderful recreation opportunity for people who simply want to day-hike a part of the region that was not accessible before, or would like to do a multi-day backpack or mountain biking trip without having to travel for hours to other parts of the state. Long loop trails have an appeal that draws people to them. There is something about encountering something new with every mile that makes a loop more interesting than the typical out-and-back. The Tour du Mont Blanc, the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier, or the White Rim trail outside of Moab are all renowned loops that are on the bucket-list of many people. The Ring the Peak trail could be one of those trails.
Pikes Peak is already known for iconic athletic events like the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. At an expected length of around 100 kilometers, the Ring the Peak trail would provide the opportunity to create an ultra-running contest that will surely draw people from all over the world. Since the trail would be a loop, the trail could be staged from many different locations around Pikes Peak. For example, one year it could be hosted by the City of Victor, and another year Woodland Park could host the event.
The biggest obstacle in finishing the route on the southwest side of the peak is the same problem we have been wrestling with for years: Where can we put the trail? Friends of the Peak, along with our partners, the Trails and Open Space Coalition and the Palmer Land Trust, have been meeting with the landholders and stakeholders on the southwest side of Pikes Peak to see if we can find a route that protects the value of their lands while still providing a satisfying experience for people who want to enjoy the beautiful area. The communities of Victor and Cripple Creek are evaluating various options and we hope to have feedback from them soon. While we would love to get going on a trail that traverses the area we have to remember that most of us are visitors in their home, so any access has to be done in a way that respects their property and privacy. We are optimistic that a creative solution can be found that will satisfy the needs of the local landholders and complete an iconic recreation destination.