Please, a moment of silence for Stephanie the cat.
And thank you, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, for this lovely little trail named for the late feline.
A memorial for her was found while volunteer builders carved this singletrack in Colorado Springs’ hills between the popular Section 16 area and Bear Creek Regional Park. That was in 2009. Since then, the intermediate-rated Stephanie’s Trail has become a favorite for mountain bikers.
It’s part of that regional park system “but deserves some distinction,” reports the experts at singletracks.com, “because it it by far the best trail in the system.”
Also since its inception, the scene around Stephanie’s has gotten a lot busier.
On a summer weekend, good luck getting a parking spot near where it starts along Lower Gold Camp Road, directly across from the massively popular Section 16 trailhead. You’re better off driving down the road, where Stephanie’s continues up into the forest.
It was designed with mountain bikers in mind, yes, but users on foot will also get a refreshing taste of nature — perhaps an uncrowded warm-up for longer trips on Section 16 or other trails off the adjacent High Drive.
After the brief plunge from Lower Gold Camp Road, Stephanie’s crosses a creek bridge and winds gently up to chunky rock gardens and scenic meadows. The views open to coniferous promontories of the canyon, the Waldo Canyon burn scar and the ridges and hogbacks defining Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The city glistens in the distance.
Shy of a mile, Stephanie’s tops out on the upper reaches of Gold Camp Road. Many riders prefer to pedal up the road and take the flowy trail downhill, starting from the closed parking pull-off labeled No. 4.
Trip report: 1.6 miles round trip (out and back), 153 feet elevation gain
Getting there: From U.S. 24, turn south onto 26th Street. At stop sign, turn right onto Lower Gold Camp Road, reaching trailhead in about a mile.
FYI: Hiking, biking. Nonmotorized trail. E-bikes not allowed. Dogs on leash.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE