Old Gates and New Trails

The Chamberlain Trail will someday connect Cheyenne Mountain State Park to the Blodget Peak area. The Chamberlain Trail has been anticipated for a century, and a major piece has been recently added but it has a long way to go. Obtaining rights-of-way for this trail along the western edge of Colorado Springs is a big part of the delay.

While hiking the existing and proposed alignment, I came to appreciate the six abandoned gates spotted along the way. These illustrate private land blocked off decades ago, but now abandoned. Each must have a story to tell.

Hiking time is thinking time. Always on the lookout for pieces of history along the trail, it hit me that these six gates illustrate the ongoing accomplishments of opening up new trails in the area.

In South Cheyenne Canyon near the Chamberlain Trail, this gate with barbed wire on top meant serious business at one time.
A new public trail passes in the background, behind this padlocked gate. Made of railroad rails, it’s not going anywhere. A similar rail nearby is dated 1913 Carnegie Steel.

(The following gates are not on the proposed Chamberlain Trail, but the still illustrate the idea of the story.)

As seen from the New Santa Fe Trail, this farm gate led to grazing land across the railroad tracks. The livestock are gone, and the grazing land is now covered by homes.
No sign of the road or grade crossing exist, but the gate still stands guard, built to last with railroad ties.
On the Front Range Trail north of Woodmen Road, we lifted this gate that had fallen into the native grasses.
In addition to this lost gate, a cattle guard and a second wide gate stands nearby, yet there is no sign of the road that once was there.
Photo by T Duren Jones 2022
When was this padlock last used, and what was the key like?
Photo by T Duren Jones 2022
With the fence removed, the gate stands alone.
This gate blocked a critical trail connection for many years until access was finally granted in the 1990’s. The gate was left with the combination padlock still in place to celebrate the end of the blockade of the trail between Colorado Springs and Monument, via the USAFA.
This photo is a decade old, and the historic gate is now loaded with padlocks placed by lovers; keys dramatically tossed away.

There will be many more to be discovered, but the six gates seen in these photos highlight land that was once off limits to the public and are now passed by in exploration of the land they once guarded.

The top two gates are near South Cheyenne Canyon. The bottom four gates can be found in chapter 19 of the book Easy Hikes to the Hidden Past – Pikes Peak Region.

Footnote: Chamberlain Trail is now open between Old Stage Road and Bear Creek Park.

Fence Sketch by R Shockley

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