Cog Railway closure could impact recreation on Pikes Peak

In an unexpected turn earlier this week, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which had stopped operating for the winter for maintenance work, announced that it would not resume operations in the spring, and may not operate for several years — or ever again.

Other than a yet-to-be-seen impact to local tourism, both in visitor numbers and revenue, the closure of the railroad may also have an affect on outdoor recreation on the peak.

The Cog is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a transportation system. Many Barr Trail hikers use the Cog as the return leg of their hike to the summit, saving their knees from the rigors of a long downhill trek. Those hikers also invariably stop at Barr Camp, the approximate halfway point on the trail.

Whether stopping in to take a break, chat with the caretakers or spend the night on the way up or back down, Barr Camp is an essential waypoint — often life-saving — for people venturing on the trail, and the Cog has been a vital part of the camp’s operations.

Other groups utilize the Cog as well. Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates relied on the Cog to deliver people and equipment while they were building the Lake Moraine Trail (formerly the “missing link” trail) last year.

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