Historic Trail Renovation

Manitou Springs, Colorado

Stream worked with civil and geotechnical engineers to design and develop a trail renovation plan for the famed, but deteriorated, Manitou Incline – a one-mile long “stairway” at the foot of Pikes Peak. The Incline was once a cog railway that shuttled tourists up to hiking trails and the “scenic splendors” offered by its position on the slopes of one of North America’s most famous peaks. With its closure in 1990, locals began hiking up the abandoned track’s 2,471 railroad tie steps, and word soon spread about this extreme challenge that climbs more than 2,000 vertical feet in one mile.

The challenges for the design team were significant and included extremely steep slopes (up to 68%), uncontrolled drainage off the mountain that created severe and on-going erosion problems, limited construction access for material transport and construction equipment, non-cohesive soils (decomposed granite), limited funding for design and construction, and the aesthetic requirement to preserve the Incline’s rustic “character”. Stream developed and envisioned the fundamental stabilization concepts and construction details that became the basis for project improvements including the cable-anchored runs of timber steps, steep slope catchment walls, and timber drainage chases that collect cross drainage and carry it away from the Incline steps. The project was completed in the fall of 2014 to great acclaim for its innovative and cost effective design and its sensitivity to the look and feel of the original Incline.