Westside Pioneer Home Page

Forest Service reopens Waldo Canyon, but fire-ruined trail remains closed

Press release from Barb Timock, U.S. Forest Service

       The Pike National Forest has revised the closure order for Waldo Canyon to allow public access. The Order (PSICC-2017-22) rescinds parts of the previous closure that prohibited entry into Waldo Canyon. The many years of work by federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations has allowed for recovery of the land, making public use of this part of El Paso County on the Pikes Peak Ranger District possible again.
       While the public will be allowed to access Waldo, the Waldo Canyon Trail (NFST 640) and Waldo Canyon Trailhead on Highway 24
A U.S. Forest Service map shows the roughly 18,000-acre burn area from the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, including the identification (in black and yellow) of the once-popular Waldo Canyon Trail that started from a trailhead parking lot off Highway 24 in Ute Pass. The Forest Service has reopened the Waldo area (as defined in the last paragraph of the article), but not the trail. The fire started in the Waldo area and spread north and east, killing two people and burning 346 homes in the Mountain Shadows area but missing Manitou Springs and the Westside (parts of which are noted at lower right).
Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service
will remain closed for public safety. There are no other legally designated Forest Service system trails in Waldo Canyon.
       Public accessing the area should use caution and be prepared for cross-country hiking over rough terrain and debris from the 2012 wildfire. The potential for flash flooding still exists. In addition, there are many dead hazard trees that can fall down. Anyone entering the area should be aware of these hazards and take any necessary safety precautions by using extreme caution.
       This opening is the beginning of the next chapter in Waldo recovery. "We are proud of the massive recovery effort the Forest Service, partners, and the community has poured into Waldo and happy that we are finally able to open the area as hunting season gets going," said Oscar Martinez, District Ranger. The Forest Service is working with partners on a sustainable path forward for recreation in the area. Redesigning and implementing a safe sustainable recreation plan in the Waldo burn scar is complex and will take time.
       The newly revised Order maintains prohibitions of camping and campfires in the area and keeps several roads closed. However, parking will now be allowed in non-designated parking areas. To read the new order and see the map, visit www.fs.usda.gov/psicc and look under "Alerts & Warnings."
       Editor's note: The area addressed in this press release is described verbatim in the Forest Service's Order PSICC-2017-22, as follows: “The Restricted Area is described as that area North of U.S. Highway 24 and South of the boundary beginning at the western edge of the National Forest System Boundary in Section 5 then following NFS Road 300 M to its junction with NFSR 300 and then across NFSR 300 and continuing south of NFSR 306 across the Rampart Reservoir dam, then east to the private property boundary in section 25, then south along the same private property to Monument Creek, then east along the southern edge of Monument Creek to the eastern edge of the National Forest System Boundary at the northwest corner of Section 32.”

(Posted 10/3/17; Outdoors: General)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)