Incline Challenge, Parker
Coloradans have a thing for outdoor stair-stepping. That’s evident by the super popularity of the Manitou Incline. And that’s further confirmed by the mini versions born in the likeness of that vertical funicular-turned fitness test — born to satisfy Front Range communities to the north.
First after the legal opening of the Manitou Incline came the Challenge Hill, the centerpiece of Castle Rock’s Philip S. Miller Park. Now comes the Incline Challenge in Parker.
Since opening around Thanksgiving , the spine of timber steps has attracted a steady parade of people on the weekends. Fortunately at the grassy base off Interstate 25, ample parking has been established by the local government collaboration that envisioned the Incline Challenge as part of a broader recreation plan surrounding Rueter- Hess Reservoir. Many more miles of trail have been planned, along with fishing and nonmotorized boating.
The reservoir, finished in 2012, represented booming drinking water demand. The Incline Challenge represents a different, stranger demand.
Perhaps someone fed up with the Manitou Incline’s required reservations will head over to this little sibling. Emphasis on little.
The Incline Challenge better compares with Castle Rock’s hill, which claims to climb 200 steps and 178 feet. The Incline Challenge labels itself as 132 steps. The top step of the Manitou Incline, meanwhile, reads 2,768. And more than the other two, we noticed a sloping trend here in Parker, less harsh.
Manitou Incline regulars might scoff, but the views are nothing to mock. Atop the Incline Challenge, Longs Peak looms straight ahead, Pikes Peak to the south, the glistening Denver skyline to the north.
A trail loops back down to the base. For those who can’t seem to get enough, the lapping begins.
Trip log: 0.9-mile loop, 237 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Trailhead at 11865 Heirloom Parkway. On I-25, take exit 188 at Castle Pines and continue east about 3 miles for left turn to parking area.
FYI: Open sunrise to sunset. Dogs allowed on loop trail, but not on steps. Same with bikes.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE