University Park and Austin Bluffs open spaces

If you’ve driven around trying to find a trailhead for Austin Bluffs Open Space, then you know why Colorado Springs parks staff is forming a master plan. Finding entry points can be confusing. Surely they’ll be better defined once the plan is finished for this open space and its adjoining properties, University Park Open Space and Pulpit Rock.

For now, the city’s website directs you to park near University Park and Rockhurst boulevards. That’s where we started our last trip into the beauty, showcasing the city’s seamless blend of urban and wild.

Cars park on the curb near the intersection’s roundabout. Look to the lovely view of Pikes Peak and see the dirt path on that west side of the circle. Enter University Park Open Space, swapping the neighborhood for a valley of thick woods and open meadows flanked by rocky bluffs.

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Continue straight on the fairly wide path as it becomes a double track. You’ll come to a road hanging right to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ artistic hub, the Heller Center. A faint trail runs between handicapped parking signs, and the singletrack is well-formed on the other side of the sidewalk, meandering to the cathedral-looking outcrop atop a hill.

The views are glorious: Rampart Range runs clear beneath America’s Mountain. Heading up to the trail’s four-way, go left and behold Pulpit Rock on the other side of the hill.

Trip log: 4 miles round trip (out and back), 196 feet elevation gain

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Take North Academy Boulevard and turn onto University Park Boulevard, across from the Firestone Auto Care. The boulevard is beside Sunrise Senior Living Center and meets Rockhurst at a roundabout. Park along the curb near the roundabout.

FYI: Multiuse. Dogs on leash.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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

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