About the series: Happy Trails explores the best of what the Colorado outdoors has to offer for hiking, biking and camping. Looking for more hiking trails in Colorado? Head over to gazette.com/Colorado-trails
We in Colorado Springs are spoiled by the proximity of Mueller State Park, a gem among this state's protected places. You'll find some of the best fall colors inside or outside the park as you drive along the aspen-flanked Colorado 67. The trails, which the park numbers for its organization, combine for 55 miles and are at elevations that average 9,600 feet. The plains-to-peak views are always easy to find. Here we spotlight trail No. 7, the one called Outlook Ridge, which loops on a rugged but family friendly route.
What makes the trail one of the park's favorites is its opportunity for variety. A series of out-and-back spurs spot the path - short hikes leading to spectacular overlooks of Pikes Peak and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. We especially recommend taking the spur labeled No. 10. Rock outcrops greet you at the end, as does the commanding back of Pikes Peak and the hazy-blue Sangres to the west. Another good idea is veering off on No. 11 to Lost Pond, less than a mile away.
During summer, eye-catching flora and fauna follow you along Outlook Ridge, which rises and dips steadily through thick woods. Wildlife sightings are always possibile here; we came by a trio of mule deer on our last trip. Be sure to grab a map from the kiosk as you enter the park. Consult it for more adventure before you leave.
TRIP LOG: 4.14 miles round trip (loop), 498-foot total elevation gain, 9,760 feet max elevation
GETTING THERE: Follow U.S. 24 west through Woodland Park, turning left onto Colorado 67 at the light in Divide. The park will be on your right.
FYI: Dogs not allowed on this trail. Open to hikers and bikers. Wanting to fit in another trail on your visit? Try Cheesman Ranch, a 5.5-mile loop.