In Garden of the Gods, it’s best to be on dirt. Let the masses roam the roads and sidewalks through the majestic central area.
OK, so you won’t escape the crowds by taking the trail to Siamese Twins, one of the park’s more captivating outcrops. Still, the scene is typically less hectic than that of Balanced Rock and those sandstone monoliths in the Central Garden.
In the summer, you’ll want to go early or late on a weekday or super early on the weekend. To reach the Twins, you have a few options. For a longer trip on foot, take the Palmer Trail, with access points from the Central Garden and all along Garden Drive from there. The road leads to the parking lot numbered 14, home to a Siamese Twins trailhead. Another is at parking lot No. 16, which is where we started on this trip. This is just ahead from the Trading Post, which might be your best bet for parking during busy times.
On the east end of lot 16, the connector trail to the Twins is well-marked, as is the whole loop. We slightly ascended through pinon and juniper and crossed the road to the trail on the other side, coming to a junction. The Siamese Twins Trail continued uphill to our right, following a low ridge with open vistas of Pikes Peak and the foothills.
Buck fencing directs hikers and equestrians, attempting to keep them off the fragile landscape. Soon, the great walls of the Central Garden emerge over the greenery. At the destination pillars, the loop continues straight, but you’ll want to veer off for the signature view.
We descended the trail to return, finding ourselves in one of those brief, gracious moments of silence and pine shade.
Trip log: 0.8 miles (loop), 133 feet elevation gain, max elevation 6,405 feet
Getting there: Garden of the Gods main entrance off 30th Street. Take one-way road around park to starting point.
FYI: Hiking and horseback riding only. Parks hours 5 a.m.-10 p.m.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE