Pikes Peak might be the best-known mountain in the entire country. This iconic Fourteener towers over Colorado Springs and has long captivated both residents and visitors. In fact, Pikes Peak is known as “America’s Mountain.” The Devil’s Playground Trail is one of two primary routes to the summit of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak.
Unfortunately, like many legacy trails on Colorado’s Fourteeners, Devil’s Playground is not ecologically sustainable and is negatively impacting wildlife habitat and water quality. Specifically, significant trail erosion has created areas where the “trail” is a four-foot deep gully.
With support from REI, in 2018 the NFF initiated a long-term trail reroute project that will eventually create a new route to the top of America’s Mountain. We joined forces with local partners, volunteers and youth corps to remove and rehabilitate the numerous user-created trails that hikers have created to avoid the deep gullies and eroded sections of the Devil’s Playground Trail.
Over time, the project will significantly enhance the hiker experience; the new trail will follow gentler, easier-to-navigate terrain as it winds toward the summit.
We laid the foundation for continued work on Pikes Peak in the coming years with the awesome help of 36 volunteers and 18 youth. Together they rerouted 1.6 miles of trail through more than 1,500 hours of work. The crews installed 132 new trail structures (drainage bars, rock steps, etc.) on the trail -- all above tree-line. Proof that trail work on Colorado's Fourteeners is not easy!
With the dedicated help of volunteers, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute and the Mile High Youth Corps, we addressed some of the most damaged trail sections in the high-elevation alpine habitat. Our work on Pikes Peak isn't complete, but this year's effort has helped stabilize some of the worst sections of the trail, improving the hiking experience and helping the alpine ecosystem.
Photos by Kellon Spencer