Dozens of flood mitigation projects are finally wrapping up in Colorado Springs, since heavy rains and floods did major damage to parks, trails and roads in September 2013. The work starts Monday in Cheyenne Cañon and will last anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, depending on the weather. Some trails and Cheyenne Cañon road could be closed during the construction, impacting hikers and cyclists who enjoy the area year round.
As a late autumn sun sets behind Cheyenne Cañon, David Huddleston and his son make their ascent up the steep and winding road. This is one of their favorite places to enjoy the outdoors.
"We mountain bike and we hike," said Huddleston. "It's just a great place to explore."
But since last year's flooding, he's noticed some changes on the trails.
"Parts have gotten a lot steeper and there's also places where you can lose your footing or big rocks have been washed out," said Huddleston.
The heavy rains caused severe erosion and washouts, making some trails impassable.
"Part of the projects are really going to be repairing the flood damage, restoring some of the slopes that were impacted and improving the drainage along the way," said project manager, David Deitemeyer, with Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation.
High Drive has some of the worst damage, with deep crevices on the trail and other parts completely washed away. Mount Cutler Trail will also see extensive work done to restore and repair it, meaning the popular trail will be closed Mondays through Fridays.
"The trail's going to be open on the weekend so people can still go up there and enjoy the Mount Cutler Trail," said Deitemeyer.
North Cheyenne Cañon Road in North Cheyenne Cañon Park may have some lane closures, along with lane closures on Bear Creek Road in Bear Creek Cañon Park. Repair work will also take place along the entire 3.5 mile stretch of High Drive. But access to Palmer Trail, Bear Creek Trail and Captain Jack's will remain open.
And even if your favorite trail or area is closed or affected, there are many other options in the area.
"You can pretty much go in any direction and find another trail to hike so personally it's not a big deal," said Huddleston.
For Huddleston and his family, the work and temporary inconveniences will be worth it to improve the parks.
"And then it's going to keep it safer and then people are going to go out and hike and I'm an advocate for families and fitness and hiking and all that stuff, so hopefully that'll happen too," he said.
The City warns that hikers and bikers might encounter construction equipment on the trails throughout the project, so dog owners are strongly encouraged to keep their pets on a leash at all times.
City Parks and Recreation estimates that there are only about 15 to 20 more trouble areas that need to be repaired from the floods, and that all work should be done by March 2015.
FEMA is paying for the flood mitigation work, at a cost of $515,000.