With summer on the way, it’s time to start hiking deeper into the mountains. Just a short, scenic drive from the Cheyenne Mountain area is the small town of Green Mountain Falls, in which many trails climb the steep ridge westward, offering some good 14er training. The Catamount Trail is one of the most popular of these trail options, as it passes through a unique wetland area known as the Garden of Eden.
Drive up U.S. 24 to the Green Mountain Falls exit and continue on Ute Pass Avenue. Pass the Gazebo Pond and go about a quarter mile to a public parking area on the right next to Catamount Creek and directly across from Hondo Avenue. Head west up steep Hondo Avenue for about one mile to the trailhead, passing a menagerie of curious cabins along the way.
Shortly after starting on the trail, hikers will engage in a relenting series of steep switchbacks that occasionally swing close to the Catamount Creek, and also some impressive waterfalls. Some trail markers help you stay on course. Hikers will quickly enter spruce fir forest. Look and listen for birds like Williamson’s Sapsucker, ruby-crowned kinglet and brown creeper. After about one mile of huffing and puffing while climbing 500 feet up the ridge, the trail flattens and hugs along boulders and the willow-lined creek as you enter the Garden of Eden area. Look for tiny brook trout in the creek.
Soon, the trail enters a wide meadow and large rock outcrops at the scenic Garden. Continue a steady climb up the creek canyon for about half a mile to a road intersection. Bear right and follow the dirt road for about half a mile, heading up to the top of the dam. Take a break and enjoy the fine views of South Catamount Reservoir and Pikes Peak before retracing your steps back to parking area.
Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.