Hikers Celebrate Manitou Incline Legalization

As of Friday, tens of thousands of Coloradans will no longer be breaking the law.

Until Feb. 1, the Manitou Incline was not just the most popular place for exercise buffs to get a workout--but also illegal to use. Since the 90s, users--who ranged from weekend warriors to Olympic athletes--brazenly sauntered pass the "No Trespassing" sign en route to the top.

Thanks to a joint effort by the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, the ball got rolling over the last couple of years to legalize the hiking trail. Even the president got in the mix, signing into law H.R. 4073, a bill introduced by Congressman Doug Lamborn to help clarify the Incline's legal status.

Senator Michael Bennet introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, proving that there is at least one thing both parties in Congress can agree on (Lamborn is a Republican, Bennet and Democrat).

A festive atmosphere greeted hikers Friday, with "grand opening" balloons displayed at the start of the 2,700 railroad ties leading to the top. A celebratory hike began at 7 a.m.

With the legalization comes new rules, which were established in May of last year. These rules include:

-No pets
-Incline can only be used from dawn to dusk
-Recommended uphill use only, climbers asked to use the Barr Trail only to descent.
-"Leave no trace" trash policy
-Standard warning to use at own risk

For those new to the Incline, it was built in 1907 as a one mile cable car tram, originally for construction of a hydroelectric plant on Pikes Peak, and later converted to a tourist attraction. When a rockslide closed the cable car in 1990, endurance athletes turned it into a place for intense workouts. The idea caught on, and it soon became a popular place for people of all fitness levels to test themselves. It's one mile straight up, with an average grade of more than 40 percent. At its toughest point, the grade is 68 percent. There are more 2,500 steps leading to the top.