Rueter-Hess Phase I hiking trails near completion
By Celeste McNeil; photos by Terri Wiebold
Phase I of the Rueter-Hess Recreation Authority (RHRA) master plan is close to completion. The first phase includes the Newlin’s Gold Trail, a hiking trail near the reservoir entry to an overlook. A stair incline is also part of phase one.
The incline is north of Hess Road and features a total elevation gain of 232 feet from the parking lot to the top, roughly 132 steps. Panoramic views from the top of the ridge range from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak on a clear day. A packed earthen trail winds back down toward the parking lot, completing a one-mile loop.
Future phases of the RHRA master plan include additional hiking and mountain biking trails. These will take users around the reservoir and connect trails between the reservoir and the incline. Additionally, the newest section of the East/West Regional Trail will extend from RidgeGate, east to the Cherry Creek Trail in Parker. Douglas County is completing this section, which is currently under construction. The trail extension follows the power lines and will have access to RHRA trails near the top of the incline.
Many Native American artifacts have been discovered in the construction of Rueter-Hess dam and trails. Phase I is managed by Parker Water and Sanitation District and works closely with the Northern Arapaho Tribe, now based on a reservation north of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Tribal representatives were on-site during early phases of construction to ensure the project would not disturb sites sacred to the first inhabitants here.
The trail and incline is not yet open to the public. The anticipated opening of the completed trail and incline is spring 2021.