Easily within 30 minutes, you can be in downtown Colorado Springs and then on ridges with spectacular vistas — on your way up Mount Muscoco. That’s one reason why the summit is entering our “classic” category of this series spotlighting trails in the Pikes Peak region.
Many locals say this is their favorite, and it’s easy to understand why: the aforementioned access, for one, showcasing the way in which nature quickly takes over surroundings in this metro. And then there’s the scenery offered by the city park system’s highest point.
The granite-crowned Muscoco looms over North Cheyenne Cañon, which is packed with tourists in the summer. It’s an ideal place to take your visitors. Though, they might appreciate something less arduous than this path. The switchbacks are steep and rocky on the final approach, and slippery, too, especially in winter.
Flat-landers are wise to stick to the saddle going left at the cutoff, toward the gentler Mount Cutler. It’s reached a half-mile up from the trailhead, with Muscoco to the right.
Following the ridge, you’ll be looking down at Seven Falls. The trail climbs steadily to a grassy, oak-covered mountainside with open views of the city and plains. Then the shady forest takes over. Then comes the nearly mile-long ascent up harsh grades riddled with stones and loose soil, arrows directing the heart-pumping route.
The top takes the breath away again. Muscoco is perfectly tucked between other promontories, like a bowl formed by rolling, evergreen slopes, lending a truly wild feel. You might hear Helen Hunt Falls rushing below or find yourself eye-level with a soaring hawk.
Trip log: 4.4 miles (out and back), 1,289 feet elevation gain, 8,020 feet max
Getting there: From the Starsmore Discovery Center at the entrance to the park on North Cheyenne Canyon Road, drive about a mile to the well-marked pull-off for Cutler/Muscoco on the left.
FYI: Parking limited; arrive early or find a spot elsewhere on the road. Hiking only. Icy in winter; use traction. Dogs on leash. No camping or fires. Lock car doors, don’t leave valuables.