HAPPY TRAILS: CATAMOUNT TRAIL, GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS

A great trail is one with variety: Some rocks, water, flora and fauna, challenge perhaps, and views that change with the miles. All of that awaits from the quaint village of Green Mountain Falls.

You'll get a good warm-up hiking almost a mile on a wide dirt road. It's a steady ascent through a neighborhood that ends at a gate, where the path continues to the trailhead. Note the instructions to follow the blue dots tacked to trees. They lead to the grand prize of this adventure: South Catamount Reservoir.

The trail starts beside a waterfall and proceeds to switchback through rugged terrain. Watch your step amid the rocks, but don't forget to look up at the hillsides and village. Eventually you'll come to a flat area. Continue straight and down with the gravel path leading to the Garden of Eden.

A lofty name, yes, but this portion of the trail does not disappoint. The meadow is nature-packed, lush as it follows a creek where wildflowers pop. A grassy flat areahas spruce trees and ponderosa pines that meet imposing granite piles. The surroundings get gnarly again, with rocks and tree trunks to step over along the drainage.

The path ends at a utilities sign. Veer right to come to the road, which splits at a 'Y'. Head right, following the road down until it rises above the dam. Arrive at the popular beach, where Pikes Peak looms over the blue water.

TRIP LOG: 6.14 miles round trip (out and back), 1,741-foot total elevation gain, 9,234 feet max

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

GETTING THERE: From Colorado Springs, head west on U.S. 24, exiting for Green Mountain Falls, Chipita Park. The road drops to the village's main street. Park in the lot across from the Little Beaver Inn; the dirt road leading to the trail runs beside the inn.

FYI: Bikes and horses allowed but not recommended.

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