Heizer Trail has a history as deep as Barr Trail's. The former, however, is not nearly as visited as the latter. Ascending from the town of Cascade, which Colorado Springs then-Mayor David N. Heizer helped develop in the 1880s, the trail does get enough year-round use so it stays easy to follow, with snow packed down on the north-facing slope it straddles. Wildflowers burst in the summer. Fall colors are brilliant in the fall. And the variety of mountain vistas make the trail worthy of greater popularity.
From Cascade, head uphill on Park Street to the trailhead. The thin path relentlessly climbs and switchbacks through the woods for 1.69 miles, gaining 1,350 feet to the craggy overlook where some choose to finish. Here, Mount Heizer appears like a perfect bell curve, and the Pikes Peak Highway can be seen across the coniferous hills. But most commanding is the Waldo Canyon burn scar. From the rocks, turn around to see the trail continuing, bending up and switchbacking again.
The next couple of miles are well worth it, as the trail enters altering landscapes of aspen stands and thick groves of Gambel oak. You'll catch glimpses of Cameron Cone and Mount Manitou on your way. Not long after 2 miles, you'll find yourself under tall pines and spruce, gazing straight ahead at Almagre Mountain. North and east faces of Pikes Peak spread across a clear sky before the trail ends at a 'T,' meeting French Creek.
Beware going left and miles on to Hurricane Canyon, an unmarked, dangerous area. Another long day could be had going right, connecting with the Barr Trail down.
Trip log: 6.76 miles round trip (out and back from "T"), 1,949-foot total elevation gain, 8,790 feet max
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Getting there: Off U.S. 24 west, turn left at the light for Pikes Peak Highway and quickly left onto Emporia Avenue, following into Cascade. Park on the side of the road by the park and see the sign for the trail up Park Street.
FYI: Hiking and biking. Dogs on leash. Trail could be icy in winter; use traction.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE