|Family Fun||Scenic Drives||Maps|
Hiking in the Pikes Peak Region
(Hosted by the Pikes Peak Cog Railway)
- The Big Daddy is Barr Trail; 13 miles and 8000 feet from Manitou Springs to the Summit of Pikes Peak. Locals (as mentioned above) hike this all year long, but in the winter it can become very icy on the switchbacks in the shade (over the first three miles) so be cautious. Additionally, the trail above timberline becomes obscured in the winter by snow; usually crampons and an ice axe are needed when this happens. Matt Carpenter's site offers the best links for this trail. There is also a $0.25 map available at the Cog that has a rough map of Barr Trail. A good intro to the trail is the walk to Barr Camp (7.5 miles up one-way). While Barr Trail is impressive, its sheer length is what makes it daunting. The first few miles are a real slog, with many switchbacks; after you reach the middle miles, you have a little more of a gradual climb with views of the surrounding mountains; you only see Pikes Peak occasionally. After you leave Barr Camp (make sure you stop at Barr Camp to get updated weather info, restock on supplies, etc.), you begin to climb in earnest. This is where the altitude starts to affect a person's metabolism. If you don't have a planned way down, be prepared to walk back down. Thunderstorms in the summer and snow in winter can shut the summit house down and prevent the trains and the highway staff from making it to the summit or force their early departure. ALWAYS have extra warm (rain/snow proof) clothing and plenty of water and snacks!
- Waldo Canyon is located up highway 24 about 2 miles above Manitou Springs. There is a big parking area on the right side about 1.5 miles past the Cave of the Winds stoplight along Highway 24. This is a beautiful 7 mile loop; 1.5 in, a 4 mile true loop and the 1.5 back out. It too gets icy in the winter on the steep shady parts. Once you reach the loop, it is generally best to go clockwise so you ascend the slippery areas and coming down is a more gentle grade. It is VERY popular on weekends, so for more solitude, do it during the week.
- Cheyenne Canyon offers some great trails. See this (same Colorado Springs Parks link as above) for some maps. Columbine is somewhat steep but very beautiful. We like starting at the Starsmore Center and going all the way to Helen Hunt Falls. Doing just the Helen Hunt Falls trail is a pleasant, quick jaunt as is the Mt. Cutler Trail.
- In Victor and the Cripple Creek area, there are numerous easy hikes. What is interesting by most of them is that they wind through the old mining districts. Not only are they picturesque but there is a lot of history to them. Remember that you are hiking around the 10,000 ft mark. www.victorcolorado.com/hiking.htm This web site has a lot of good information on the hiking trails. Some of the most popular trails is the Independence Mill Site Trail, Golden Circle Trail, Vindicator Valley Trail, Battle Mountain Trail, Little Grouse mountain Trail, and the Gold Camp Trail (Cripple Creek). Most of these trails are fairly easy but there is some elevation gain (loss) on several of them. Round trip is from about 1 hour to 3 hours depending on the trail.
- In the Woodland Park area, there is a paved trail that follows CO 67 north up to Manitou Lake. The trail is easy and is paved (perfect for biking or hiking with the kids). www.woodlandparkchamber.com
- In the Divide area, there is a wonderful system of trails located in Mueller State Park and nearby Dome Rock Wildlife Area. There is a small Park System fee associated with this but the hikes are astounding. They do allow some mountain biking on some of these trails. In the winter, there is great snowshoeing available. The wildlife area has some trails that are closed to the public certain times of the year. The trails tend to be somewhat strenuous as what goes up has to come down and most trails start on the high end which means a good climb on the way back. The mean elevation is about the 9500ft level and you may descend to the 8,000ft mark. A handheld GPS system works well for these trails. http:\\parks.state.co.us/parks/mueller/