Dixon Path and the Dragon’s Spine


This summer season whenever you go to a state park and head up a favourite path, I wish to provide you with one thing to consider apart from the wildflowers you may even see and the wildlife it’s possible you’ll encounter in your journey.

Please take into consideration the path itself, the work that went into its creation and the individuals who made it occur.

I’m serious about it myself regarding the Dixon Path at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs that opened final fall. It will likely be model new to lots of our park guests this summer season. It was a brand new expertise for me, watching all the trouble that went into its design and development. And I believe hikers could be as shocked as I used to be on the magnitude of the undertaking.

I first heard of plans for the Dixon Path once I began as a park ranger in 2008.

“Cool,” I assumed. “I don’t work there, however I’ll must attempt it.”

Then in 2014, I grew to become the Senior Ranger at Cheyenne Mountain State Park and realized we had crews working to attach the highest of the mountain with the prevailing path system.

I went to the highest to see the place they have been working and to check the path design. I used to be instantly overwhelmed by the beautiful views.

A view from the top of Dixon Trail.

In my bliss, I utterly neglected the magnitude of labor in retailer for us to create the Dixon Path to the highest and the Dragon’s Spine and Mountain Loop Path – the spectacular trails that reward everybody who makes it to the summit.

Path Design

The work began with a path design by Mark Hesse, who based Rocky Mountain Area Institute.

Path design isn’t just drawing a line and placing in a path, many elements went into the design.   

The Dixon Path designers needed to map out an inexpensive grade for climbing, account for erosion and for talus slopes. Plus they needed to keep away from obstacles, pure and artifical, together with non-public property in-holdings and endangered owl habitat.

As soon as that they had overcome design points, they needed to confront the sheer bodily problem of constructing a hike up excessive terrain at altitude. The paths are usually not accessible by OHV, so all instruments have been hand-carried. Discuss a devoted group of volunteers. Think about how onerous it was to hold heavy instruments uphill for 3-6 miles earlier than they even began the work of the day.

Path Canines

Volunteers with the Rocky Mountain Area Institute, or RMFI, labored up high on the Dragon’s Spine and the Mountain Loop trails. Down under, a park volunteer path crew we referred to as the “Path Canines” labored up from the prevailing North Talon Path.

Collectively they chiseled out what we now name the Dixon Path. Our volunteer path coordinator, Jack Busher, has been on the undertaking since Day One. Bear in mind, that first day was 11 years in the past.

Volunteer Out of doors Colorado introduced crews from different path teams in addition to their very own volunteers to work throughout a number of summers.

If it wasn’t tough sufficient, Mom Nature added a twist in 2016 when the Tussock Moth killed many timber that border the Dixon Path. Winter winds knocked the useless timber down, blocking the path in lots of locations. Enter the parks volunteer fireplace mitigation crew. They started carrying chainsaws up the path to take away obstacles and potential hazards.

Cleaning damage created by the Tussock Moth.
The sort of work continues by the volunteer crew in addition to workers.

Signage, GPS Areas and Mapping

Behind the path constructing scenes, park workers was growing and putting in signage, confirming GPS places and mapping, working with fireplace and rescue crews on response logistics and figuring out potential hazards.  

There was even an extended course of for naming the brand new trails as a result of it required analysis and reaching a consensus amongst numerous stakeholder teams. The Dixon identify was chosen to honor a historic path up the mountain utilized by homesteader Thomas Dixon. The brand new Dixon path doesn’t observe the unique path precisely however the historical past behind it stays.

Dragon’s Spine

The Mountain Loop was named for its location and form: it loops across the high of the path system. The Dragon’s Spine comes from folklore that Cheyenne Mountain was fashioned by a dragon that landed, drank all of the water on the mountain leaving it too heavy to fly. The path follows what could be the spine of the dragon.

The brand new trails have been open since October and are seeing numerous use, particularly because the climate improves.

And we aren’t finished engaged on them. Moreover typical upkeep, we’re including overlooks and pure benches.

The truth is, a bench on the Dragon’s Spine honors Mark Hesse, the designer who handed away earlier than seeing his creation completed.

So, as you hike across the switchbacks, by the meadows and alongside the steep inclines, maybe take into consideration Mark and all those that made the paths doable. And toast them with a swig out of your water bottle.


Darcy Mount

Written by Darcy Mount. Mount is a Senior Ranger Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Pictures courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Invoice Vogrin


Latest posts