Sundance is one of Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s premier loops, along with Blackmer showcasing the diverse nature at the base of the granite monolith. Starting out the way we did on Sundance, it’s easy to understand why some might prefer Blackmer. For about a mile, the wide path parallels the highway. But before long, we felt the solitude afforded by Colorado Springs’ state park.
Perhaps people knew to stay away on this morning, after rainfall. For as much as the park trails avoid snow, they pack mud in the spring. In case you don’t like getting dirty, be advised.
From the Limekiln parking lot, see the steps beside the playground’s buck and rail fence. They lead down to Sundance, which we started by going left. The first meadow is a prairie dog village with a great view of the mountain and foothills.
The swoopy trail with short inclines — well-suited for beginner mountain bikers — alternates between this openness, patches of scrub oak and woods of tall pine. The mountain looms in view throughout, commanding respect. High points reveal the mosaic at its foot and the hazy plains in the opposite direction.
The park’s trail system has a color-coded set of markers. The red ones will keep you on Sundance.
At the first four-way, continue straight, and at the next junction, we stayed straight again rather than going left. Later, as you meet the yellow markers for Talon, you’ll think you lost Sundance. But walk straight and see the trail branching to your right.
The last mile of the trip includes another pine-scented forest and meadow. At the ‘T,’ we hung right on Zook Trail back to the parking lot.
Trip log: 3.34 miles round trip (loop), 425 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Nevada Avenue, which becomes Colorado 115 south. Park entrance directly across from Fort Carson gate. Past the pay kiosk, the Limekiln parking lot will be to your left.
FYI: Hiking and biking, portion for equestrians. No dogs. $8 day pass per vehicle.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE