Big days at Red Rock
Volunteers pitch in for inaugural trail project
The Red Rock Canyon Open Space trail system started getting connected the weekend of Aug. 28-29, thanks to scores of
volunteers from the Pikes Peak region and the rest of the state.
The project, organized by the Denver-based Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) with Colorado Springs Parks, numbered 205 workers Saturday the 28th and 100 on the 29th, according to VOC Projects Director Heath Mackay. He estimated that three-quarters of a mile of trail was built, much of it traversing steep terrain and connecting the three main canyons in the rugged, open-space property.
“People worked really hard,” he said. “A lot of them had difficult sections that needed rock walls, stairs or culverts.”
Chris Lieber of City Parks added his praise of the volunteers. “I want to say thanks to all the citizens who came for the project,” he said. “We're absolutely delighted with the work that was completed. Beyond that, it was a great day for community building, a chance to meet neighbors, make new friends and give something back. It's a proud moment when the community comes together.”
He also credited local outdoors groups who joined the project. These included the Intemann Trail Committee, which had previously scheduled an Aug. 29 workday on the Intemann; the Friends of Red Rock Canyon; and the Friends of the Peak, who came to Red Rock Canyon Saturday after finding too much snow on Pikes Peak to work there.
Volunteers ranged from 83-year-old Steve Austin, a long-time VOC'er who specializes in rock walls - and amazed even veteran workers with how quickly his ramp in front of the historic quarry became passable - to numerous people who had never worked on trails before.
Dave Adair, a worker who had participated in the Red Rock Canyon public planning process, said that after seeing all the plans on paper, he enjoyed helping bring them to reality. “It's good to give back,” he said.
The project had been set in June - shortly after the last public meeting to finalize the master plan. The VOC normally plans its projects more than a year in advance. However, this year, the statewide trail-building agency had left the last weekend in August open for an “on-demand” workday, and decided to use it to aid the city's goal of opening the property to the public as soon as possible. It helped that Lieber has worked with the VOC for many years, both as a city administrator and as a volunteer crew leader.
The quarry provides a particularly impressive sight - its tall, sheer, sandstone walls revealing massive, vertical, man-made cuts, evoking the days between 1890 and 1918, when a shanty town filled the canyon and the rock that was mined there was sent all over the country.
Bock legacies include the house (built in the mid-1960s) and outbuildings, a nearby man-made lake and several detention ponds that slow the flooding down the north-south canyons. The city has not yet decided what to do with the house, and for now it is closed to the public.
The new trail goes west from Red Rock Can-yon (an actual canyon within the property), using a new, hand-made, rock-walled ramp to reach a low point in the quarry and pass through to Greenlee Canyon. From Greenlee, workers hacked in trail that snakes westerly over ridges full of cactus, yucca and scrub oak to finally descend to Sand Canyon (bordering Crystal Hills). Some of the sections in the Greenlee-to-Sand segment are not finished, but may get addressed if enough workers turn out for the city-sponsored workday planned Saturday, Sept. 18, Lieber said.
The canyon connections create trail-looping possibilities that did not previously exist. The Bocks had built roads up the canyons, but had not linked them.
Eventually, according to the city's master plan, there will be 17 miles of trail in Red Rock. Several miles of that will simply involve narrowing the Bock roads. Another link, starting near the quarry area, still needs to be built east through the steep north-south ridgelines separating little Red Rock Canyon from lesser known depressions known as Red Rock Rim and Hogback Valley (the latter above the Midland area).
Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a 788.1-acre property south of Highway 24 between the Westside's Midland and Manitou Springs' Crystal Hills neighborhoods. The city bought the land from the Bocks last December for $12.5 million, mainly with funds from its Trails, Open Space and Parks sales tax. City plans call for the property to open to the public at least minimally later this month.
Westside Pioneer Article