santa fe trail
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Runners on the New Santa Fe Trail in 2014.

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Colorado Springs’ north side has developed to the delight of families. Subdivisions sprawl north and east of Woodmen Road, with high-tech schools and libraries in between, along with some of the city’s biggest churches, fitness centers and shopping centers.

Neighborhood parks and open spaces aren’t far from the back door. But in terms of outdoor recreation, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail rules, serving residents seeking fresh air and cardio.

Stretching almost 17 miles over an old railroad bed, the mostly unpaved thoroughfare is popular among training runners and cyclists.

But most aren’t on the path for its full distance, preferring to stick to nearby portions after work that will get them home for dinner.

The southernmost portal is off Woodmen Road, very subtly rising to open meadows where prairie dogs whistle. The trail winds through the Air Force Academy, but users be advised: Closures for construction are scheduled sporadically through the spring of 2019.

Farther north, the trail’s reaches through the town of Monument are still without shade, which lends greater views of the mountains and valleys. Between here and the last trailhead in Palmer Lake, one might observe the peculiar formation called Elephant Rock. Also between Monument and Palmer Lake are some of the most intriguing points of history related to the railroad that ran in the late 1800s.

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Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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