The mountains beckon around Manitou Springs. But there also is beauty at their base. Urban paths explore the nature that envelops town, providing an idyllic, quick and easy respite.
Take, for example, the modest stretch known as the Creek Path.
The trail takes people out of the summertime tourist bustle of downtown and delivers them to the refreshing graces of Fountain Creek. A trickling and cascading melody quickly replaces the cacophony of traffic and everyday life. One is never far from Manitou Avenue, but one might not know it, immersed in a greenway full of surprises. Neighbors who frequent on foot and bike regularly come across deer.
A master plan envisions a better-connected path running west from Rainbow Falls through downtown Manitou to Schryver Park. This trip follows the creek from Memorial Park in downtown to Schryver Park. The latter might be a better starting point, considering the parking available at Schryver, where the community fitness center is situated, along with playgrounds, picnic tables and a basketball court. See the Creek Path marked beside the court.
But we recently started from Memorial Park, where the dirt path is found across from City Hall, at the corner of Manitou Avenue and El Paso Boulevard. This stretch grants an up-close look of the creek and some waterfalls that roar depending on seasonal flows.
Continuing east, the dirt briefly meets sidewalk; follow about a tenth of a mile to the trail turning left downhill, directly across from Manitou Auto. Return to the creek and shade of cottonwoods. Ducks usually hang around these waters, and the woods lend the feel of a true nature path.
The path again meets the street at the visitor center; the dirt continues behind the building. It runs about a quarter-mile to Schryver Park, meeting sidewalk (Midland Trail) that continues to the “backside” entrance to Garden of the Gods. The trip could be extended by following the uphill road about a half-mile to Balanced Rock.
Trip log: 1.9 miles out and back, 174 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Memorial Park at 502 Manitou Ave.; Schryver Park at 300 Garden of the Gods Place.
FYI: Running, hiking and biking. Dogs on leash. Icy in winter; wear traction.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE