Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Short winter hikes in the Pikes Peak region

By Jen Mulson Updated: March 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm 0

Despite wishing and hoping, it's still winter. But we know you're dying to get out of the house and on the trails, so we're here to help.

Here are a few gentle, relatively short (about 2 to 3 miles) hikes around the Pikes Peak region. They're mostly on flat land, though there might be a few climbs along the way.

While the sun usually takes care of the snow and ice quickly in Colorado Springs, don't let potentially slick conditions put the kibosh on your hiking aspirations. Get yourself some Yaktrax or crampons, devices used to give the hiker or walker better traction. Find them at Mountain Chalet, REI or other outdoor stores, and slip them over the soles of your shoes.

Hopefully, these short walkabouts will help you hold on until spring rears her pretty, little head.

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Perkins Central Garden Trail in Garden of the Gods

Length: 1.5 miles round trip, zero elevation gain

Difficulty: Easy, and includes access for wheelchairs and strollers.

Directions: Enter Garden of the Gods at 1805 N. 30th St. and park in the main parking lot. Find the trail here.

Description: This is a shorty for the whole family, including those who might be in a stroller. The paved trail loops its way through the highest rock formations in the park and offers grand views of Pikes Peak. There might be a few rock climbers to watch as well.

 

Zook Loop in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Length: 1 mile, elevation gain of 261 feet

Difficulty: Easy. No dogs.

Directions: Drive south on Colorado Highway 115. Turn right at the first stoplight onto JL Ranch Heights Road (also the light for Fort Carson Gate 1). The park entrance is to the west.

Fees: $7 per vehicle for daily pass; $60-$70 annual pass

Description: Walk among the ponderosa pines and Rocky Mountain junipers, and look for the interpretive signs telling about the mountain lions and bears that live within the 1,680-acre park. The area lies beneath the eastern portion of Cheyenne Mountain and borders the plains of Colorado. You get it all - peaks and plains.

 

Ute Valley Park Loop

Length: 2.2 miles, elevation gain of 120 feet

Difficulty: Easy, and leashed dogs are permitted.

Directions: From Interstate 25, take the Woodmen Road exit and turn west. Turn west on Vindicator Drive, then left into the Ute Valley parking lot. The trailhead is at the southeast corner of the lot.

Description: The 338-acre park lies in the middle of suburban northwest Colorado Springs and offers a 7.6-mile trail network along its ridges and valleys. Jaunt along the sandstone, through forests and meadows, and enjoy the views of the canyon.

 

Pulpit Rock in Austin Bluffs Open Space

Length: 1.5 miles, elevation gain of about 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate.

Directions: Drive north on Nevada Avenue as far as you can. Park at the trailhead adjacent to the utilities substation. Take the main trail out of the parking lot. It connects with another large trail. Go right. In about 50 yards, before you go around the first bend, you'll see a small trail on your left. Follow it to the top of Pulpit Rock.

Description: Surely you've seen the white-rock castle visible from I-25 near Woodmen Road. Now's your chance to hike to the top of it. Saunter along amid the pi?n and ponderosa, taking in the view of Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range, the city and the foothills.

 

Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan

Length: 1-4 miles, elevation gain of 150 feet

Difficulty: Easy. No camping, no bikes, no dogs, no horses. Stay off formations.

Directions: Drive east on Colorado Highway 24 through Calhan. Turn south on Yoder Road, then east on Paint Mines Road. Follow the road for about 1 mile. The trailhead is on the left.

Description: With no shade in the park, the sun can't help but melt away any snow, making this a perfect winter jaunt. Four miles of trails in this 750-acre county park make a rough figure eight. Any path will take you close to the rock spires at the center of the park.

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