Colorado Springs Hikes
My best friend and I had made big plans to travel to Banff National Park in Canada this August, not thinking that the coronavirus would still be a thing. Well, as we now know, it is still very much a thing. Canada isn’t too fond of letting Americans in for travel purposes now, so we rescheduled our adventure to commence from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our goal was to get some time away from the Texas heat and our apartments, while spending time outside and socially distancing from other travelers.
Colorado Springs has many places to hike, from the Pike National Forest to the Garden of the Gods to the Austin Bluffs Open Space. There are hikes for anyone and everyone here. Many of the hikes in the more popular park, Garden of the Gods, are very short and well paved. For the more adventurous, there is Pike National Forest, the home of Pike’s Peak (at 26-mile roundtrip hike). For the rock climbers, Garden of the Gods provides many rocks to scale up. All of the parks listed in this post are free to enter.
Garden of the Gods
Probably one of the most well-known attractions of Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is home to massive, striking rock features. Out of seemingly nowhere, slabs of red rock jut into the sky, all close together. The park has a circular drive going through it with multiple parking lots branching off of the main road. As for hikes itself, there are not too many single hikes over a mile, but it is easy to combine several smaller ones. You see a lot in a short distance, and most of the hikes are well paved and marked. The park allows rock climbing and dogs. Forewarning though, the parking lots do fill up quickly. There is a high turnover rate so waiting ten minutes or so will grant you a spot, but it is a more crowded park. We hiked the Siamese Twins, Ridge, and Perkins Central Garden Trails, which all gave wonderful views of the park.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
This was probably my favorite park because it offered views of both the the mountains and Garden of the Gods from a distance, it has a big rocky canyon, the trails are a bit further, parking is more plentiful, and there are several large red rocks along with a pretty pond. The trails themselves oftentimes criss-cross, but it is easy to find your way back to the parking lots. There are also maps placed at most junctions on the trail.
Austin Bluffs Open Space
This open space is a little more difficult to route yourself to…our first attempt landed us in nice suburban area. Once we found the correct address though, it was simple to find parking and the trails. There are no markings on these trails and they all lead up to the central defining feature of the park- Pulpit Rock. We ended up scaling the face of the rocks, but there are much safer routes available. The top gives a sweeping view of Colorado Springs with the mountains in the background.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park
This park is a bit more “mountain” like, with thin twisted roads climbing upwards. We did part of the Seven Bridges Trail and the Helen Hunt Falls Trail. It is definitely more wooded than the other hikes and less rocky, and there are great views of the mountain and the canyon. Parking is a little tight and difficult to get, but it is worth it.
Pike Peak National Forest
Finally, Pike Peak National Forest. There is the option to drive to the top of Pikes Peak, as well as hike it. We chose to do about 5 miles on the The Crags Trail, which I believe eventually leads up to the summit of Pikes Peak (if you hike much farther than we did). It was a pretty easy hike with beautiful mountains rising in the distance, and large rock formations. We stopped at about 2.5 miles out and sat on an overlook.
Of course there are several more places to hike that we did not go to, such as the Ute Valley Park and the infamous Manitou Incline. There are also several wilderness attractions that you can pay to enter, such as Seven Falls at the Broadmore Resort. We like to travel on a budget though and the free parks were gorgeous. If you do travel to Colorado Springs, make sure the park you’re going to does not require a timed entry pass. Due to covid 19, the Manitou Incline was requiring a free pass with an alotted entry time on it to prevent crowing on the climb.
Overall, CO Springs gave us a wonderful break from Texas (even though it did get up to 90 degrees) and we loved all the hikes we did. We are thankful for our safe, short trip.