Explore the best trails for hiking in Colorado with the Happy Trails series.
In Colorado Springs and the colorful state beyond, opportunities for adventure are endless. And we here at The Gazette want to help you on your way.
This continuing Gazette series explores the best of what the Colorado outdoors has to offer. Check back every week for new trails.
There's no better season than early fall for hiking in Colorado.
The air is crisp. The crowds are light. And autumn’s fabulous colors are on bold display.
This hike in Teller County features stand after stand of gold aspens, plus the shimmering waters of North Catamount Reservoir. Did we mention the unobstructed views of America’s Mountain?
At the timber step marked as the 1,300th on the way up the lung-busting, leg-burning Manitou Incline, one can now step to the flat earth to th…
Going south on U.S. 285 from Denver, the urban landscape changes to rural in less than 30 miles, the glare of tall buildings replaced by coniferous hills.
The urban landscape of Woodland Park fades and the pines and aspens take over along Colorado 67 running north. The woods conceal scenic meadows and such curiosities as red rocks, hulking boulders and bizarre spires. Here also lies Manitou Lake.
One of Colorado Springs locals' favorite nature sanctuaries has a trail named for the act that great nature stirs. To contemplate is to be one…
Ice Lake Trail is a portal to an enchanting alpine basin in Colorado’s southwestern San Juan Mountains, about six hours from Colorado Springs.
Tucked high in the Rampart Range, this beautiful body of water and the trail that traces its banks serve scores of outdoor enthusiasts.
Blodgett Peak commands attention on the north side of Colorado Springs. Its pointy, craggy profile stands out among the green foothills, calling to explorers who should not underestimate its summit, however humble near 9,500 feet.
How much do people of the Pikes Peak region love new trails? If the opening Saturday of Pineries Open Space was any indication, the answer is a lot.
It's a hard-earned trek to get to Pancake Rocks in Teller County. If looking for something less arduous, or if perhaps you find yourself short on time and testing summer afternoon storms, Horsethief Falls along the way is a destination in its own right.
The intermediate-rated Stephanie's Trail has become a favorite for local mountain bikers.
Palmer Park is famous in Colorado Springs for representing a signature aspect of the city: how concrete quickly fades and nature takes over. This is also the case at a preserve on the Springs’ north side, where similarly between houses, there’s a break for intriguing rock formations.
Denverites know Roxborough State Park as their nearest Garden of the Gods. Jutting from these treasured 4,000 acres near Littleton, these rugged, sandstone marvels are amazing to behold up close. And they’re amazing to behold from up above. That’s the allure of the hike to the park’s highest point, Carpenter Peak.
Traffic continues its unrelenting course on Interstate 25, as does construction. All the while, just a stone’s throw away, the nostalgic surro…
In North Cheyenne Cañon Park, Helen Hunt Falls is the easy waterfall of choice, with a parking lot situated right at its base. In the summer, tourists flock here, while Colorado Springs locals embark on a trip with greater rewards. Such is the promise of St. Mary's Falls, the cascade hiding in the park’s outer boundaries, tucked amid the rocks and trees of Pike National Forest.
Despite its many rewards — fitness, scenery and history — Ute Trail in Manitou Springs is too often overlooked. Perhaps that’s due to it shari…
On Colorado Springs north side, Blodgett Peak Open Space calls to congregants of nature worshippers. On weekends, the parking lot fills. Meanwhile, a newer portion of the preserve waits to be realized.
For many in Denver, Cherry Creek Reservoir is the place to escape. The state park is among the busiest in Colorado, counting 1.7 million guests a year. It's also among the biggest, boasting nearly 4,200 acres.
The hike to Bald Mountain above Woodland Park is short, sweet and pretty darn steep, with stunning views that stretch for miles in all directions.
From Interstate 25, it appears to be a white spire, a thumb poking from the distant greenery, like a bell tower calling congregants to the base of Mount Herman. A closer look reveals Monument Rock to be not just vertical but wide, like the wall of a castle, pocked with quartz and feldspar that shimmers in the sunlight.
Out-of-towners know Philip S. Miller Park for the zip line. That tour ventures near the top the park's other well-known feature: the Challenge Hill, a miniature version of the world-famous Manitou Incline, the mountain-spanning set of railroad ties found about 50 miles down Interstate 25. Castle Rock residents, meanwhile, know Philip S. Miller Park for much more.
Between Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, a hamlet tucked between evergreen slopes has steadily become a hiking paradise.
On the northeast side of the city, Old Farm neighbors are spoiled with uninterrupted views of Pikes Peak and Rampart Range. Far south on a clear day, they gaze upon the Wet Mountains and the Spanish Peaks. Thanks to the city’s sales tax-funded Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) program, they’re no longer the only ones spoiled.
Colorado Springs’ founding father could not have predicted the many motors that would one day rumble through the city’s greatest nature sanctuary. But Gen. William Jackson Palmer would surely appreciate his namesake footpath. Here, one quickly swaps concrete for dirt, fumes for fresh air.
If you’re in the know — an outdoorsy Monument local or avid mountain biker sweeping the Pikes Peak region’s singletrack — then you know about …
As part of its 2016 master plan for Bluestem Prairie Open Space, the Colorado Springs parks department asked visitors for their observations and came to this conclusion: “The perception is that it is not well-used.”
Another year of Happy Trails has come to a close, our ongoing series spotlighting mostly regional, mostly family-friendly hikes around Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Here we reflect on some of our favorites from 2019:
Pike National Forest continues to heal from 2002’s Hayman wildfire. Nature’s wheel turns: quaking aspen grow ranks, animal tracks span the scorched earth between infrequent pine shade and rock gardens. And the scenery has opened, revealing, for one, the regal promontory called Thunder Butte.
Many residents of tiny Green Mountain Falls might prefer their trails be kept secret. Then again, many others — the hard-working members of the GMF Trails Committee — would like for the fruits of their labor to be appreciated.
Near Boulder, Eldorado Canyon is a Colorado state park unlike any other. Winter is a great time to visit for solitude, though you'll want to check road conditions before you go.
Easily within 30 minutes, you can be in downtown Colorado Springs and then on ridges with spectacular vistas — on your way up Mount Muscoco. T…
We had a destination in mind on our last visit to Palmer Park. That’s the first mistake one makes at this signature Colorado Springs preserve.
To beat autumn’s aspen gold-seekers at Mueller State Park in Teller County, you’ll want to get to the Grouse Mountain trailhead early. The options are plenty from here, which is why we didn’t have to share the Buffalo Rock loop much.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park’s premier loop is the one that skirts Mount Buckhorn. That’s no secret. But if you weren’t one of the hikers, mountain bikers or dirt bikers in the know, it might be hard to find that loop with the lack of signage. We’re here to help, plus point you to Buckhorn’s unofficial summit.
The Dakota Ridge trail, with a steep, nearly mile-long portion designated for downhill mountain bikes only, is one delight of Matthews/Winters Park. The 2,461-acre paradise has been saved from the urban sprawl.
In southern Boulder County, close to the hustle and bustle of the city and university but feeling far away, lies a slice of nostalgia.
The last time we spotlighted the Crags in our Happy Trails series, we hailed it as “a quintessential hike of the Pikes Peak region.” Let us revise that statement. This is the quintessential hike.
Bear Lake is the starting point to higher, more glorious alpine waters. Our destination was Lake Helene, tucked between spectacular, granite marvels. And while Rocky Mountain National Park lists the level of use there as “moderate,” we were pleased to have the shore to ourselves.
However short on time, one can lace up the running shoes or hop on a bike and snag satisfying exercise and scenery in Denver's popular Waterton Canyon. Others enter the South Platte River-carved canyon with waders and fly rods.
You won’t exactly escape crowds by taking the trail to Siamese Twins, one of the Garden of the Gods' most captivating outcrops.
After a nostalgic drive through ranchland, Eleven Mile State Park’s shimmering reservoir emerges, backdropped by verdant hills and distant peaks. Fishing and boating is the main attraction, but don't miss the trails.
If a sandstone fix is what you need in Colorado Springs and crowds are what you fear, Red Rock Canyon Open Space is a better bet than Garden of the Gods in the busy season.
The cascade is within Rocky Mountain National Park but not behind a pay kiosk, making it all the more appealing.
Regulars won’t appreciate us calling yet more attention to their favorite local trail. Though, they should know by now that Section 16 does not belong to them, highly-trafficked as it is also by first-timers to Colorado Springs.
Long Scraggy Peak is a day hiker’s dream, with terrain worthy of its name, a punishing ascent but tremendous views.
What makes Ouray the Switzerland of America? You find out with a quick drive up Red Mountain Pass, to overlooks of the quaint town tucked in a box canyon and framed by the white-capped wonders of the San Juan Mountains. But a better way to take in the grandeur? That would be pulling off for the Perimeter Trail.
Many — too many, some would say — flock to North Cheyenne Cañon to catch the Seven Bridges Trail, refreshing on a summer day.
Outdoor enthusiasts in Colorado Springs know Section 16. How about the Bear Creek Trail/Trail 666?
Want to witness massive arches without dealing with the crowds at a certain national park in Utah? Look no further than Rattlesnake Canyon Arches near Grand Junction.
It can be tricky finding a trailhead for Austin Bluffs Open Space. Start through the valley of University Park Open Space, tacking on the views with Pulpit Rock.
Lincoln Mountain Open Space is one gem within Douglas County's outdoor portfolio. Expect smaller crowds here north of Colorado Springs.
A short loop at Florissant Fossil Beds, where remain massive redwood stumps from millions of years ago.
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.
In Cañon City, often overlooked is the East Ridge Campground in Royal Bridge Park, but the Summit Trail from here, leading to Fremont Peak, should not be missed.
You’ve seen the landmark from Interstate 25 — the commanding promontory for which the town of Castle Rock is named. Now, exit the highway and take a closer look.
Past Fort Carson and Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Highway 115 runs deep into unspoiled landscape: sandstone canyon sides and green foothills, the road cresting to glimpses of the Spanish Peaks and Wet Mountains. Hiding off a side street is Aiken Canyon Preserve.
For all that Bear Creek Regional park offers — play sets, picnic pavilions, tennis courts, a dog park — the centerpiece is the trail network. Runners, walkers, equestrians and mountain bikers delight in 10-plus miles of dirt paths that weave through prairie and oak- and yucca-covered knolls.
A land of wonder hides east of Interstate 25, less than an hour from Colorado Springs. Colorado 83 runs straight through rolling, mostly undeveloped grasslands, north to eye-opening vistas of Pikes Peak and the snowy range far ahead. And then another stunner emerges: Castlewood Canyon State Park, a wild preserve sprawling more than 2,600 acres.
The Coyote Ridge Natural Area is a prairie-to-foothills experience near Fort Collins and open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.