There’s a New Incline Just South of Denver

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Amidst a global pandemic, Coloradans have been seeking out new ways to enjoy the open air. Just in time for the long winter ahead, Douglas County recently added a new outdoor destination to the list of adventurous activities in the Denver metro area. Whether you need a challenge for the new year or a warm-up before trying the Manitou Incline, challenge yourself with the Rueter-Hess Incline.

The Rueter-Hess Incline is the first addition to phase one of the Recreational Master Plan at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. This phase of the trail system is now open to visitors with plans to open the remainder of the park with a grand opening in the spring. In its completed state, the recreation area will offer fishing, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, camping and horseback riding. Plus, a 15-mile trail system, connecting to the East-West Regional Trail.

Incline details

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132 steps to the top of the Rueter-Hess Incline. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

The incline features 132 well-defined steps. It is part of the Rosie Rueter Trail Loop, which is just over a mile long from the parking lot. Head to the left from the trailhead to ascend the incline or begin to the right of the trailhead and descend the steps after a decent incline to the top, where visitors can take in the scenic views of the Front Range and the downtown Denver skyline.

Visitors should not expect the same heart-pounding challenge of the Manitou Incline. Rather, they should anticipate a climb more like the Challenge Hill at the Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock. Make the loop a few times and easily tack on the miles and pump up the heart rate for a respectable workout.

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The view coming down the Rosie Rueter Loop Trail. Photo by Jessica Hughes

A long time in the making, the recreation area was bought years ago after a bond was passed to finance the project. During construction in 2015, the Parker Water and Sanitation District revealed evidence of ancient pit dwellings, burial sites and craftsman tools. These remains revealed life dating back as far as 8,000 years ago. The most impressive archeological discovery found was two well-preserved ceremonial rings constructed of rocks.

Park information

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Trailhead information for the Rosie Rueter Trail Loop. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

Pets are only allowed on the trails and must be leashed at all times. Pets are not permitted on the incline steps. The trails are currently open to hikers, bikers (on trails only), snowshoers, and cross-country skiers. A large parking lot is provided at the bottom of the incline with porta-potties available. The park is open seven days a week, from sunup to sundown.

Directions from Denver

From I-25, take the Ridgegate Parkway exit 192. Continue on Ridgegate Parkway until Chambers Road. From this intersection, head south on Chambers Road and turn right on to Heirloom Parkway. Follow the road west, just past the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility.

Please note the Rueter-Hess Reservoir is currently not open to the public.

For more information regarding future plans for the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, visit www.rhrecreation.org.