Pikes Peak region and Colorado Springs-area hikers need not travel far to catch Colorado’s signature aspen displays in the fall. Here are some favorites:
The Seven Bridges trail, a little more than 1½ miles one way, follows North Cheyenne Creek through a shady forest. Once you’ve reached the seventh bridge, you can continue on to reach Jones Park, where you’ll find aspen-filled meadows.
If you go: Park atop North Cheyenne Cañon Park, above Helen Hunt Falls. The trail, marked No. 622, starts a little more than a half-mile west of the parking lot.
The beautiful rock formations of The Crags for which this trail is named aren’t the only reason to bring your camera. The roughly 4-mile round-trip hike offers stunning views of Pikes Peak, distant mountain ranges and colorful foliage aplenty.
If you go: Heading south on Colorado 67 from U.S. 24, be on the lookout for the sign pointing to the dirt track on your left.
Mueller State Park
Check out the park’s 55 miles of trails and upward of 5,000 acres of meadows and forests. For the best aspen views, hike the 5½-mile Cheesman Ranch Loop.
Pikes Peak looms in view between the aspen trees on a perfect fall day along the Cheesman Ranch Loop in Mueller State Park.
If you go: Head south on Colorado 67 from U.S. 24 and turn right into the park. Daily admission is $9 per vehicle. No dogs.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Another sprawling state park, with a spectacular new destination to behold. Should you take on the 15-mile round-trip trek up Dixon Trail to the top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a seemingly endless aspen grove. Much gentler options are the Blackmer and Sundance loops.
If you go: Take Colorado 115 south past South Academy Boulevard and turn right into the park. Daily admission is $9 per vehicle. No dogs.
Woodland Park residents are spoiled by this 5-mile loop of Lovell Gulch, starting pretty much right from town. The trail meanders tranquil meadows and rises to spectacular views of Pikes Peak. Aspens accompany you the whole way.
If you go: Going west on U.S. 24 through Woodland Park, turn right on Baldwin Street at the McDonald’s. Continue straight until the city maintenance buildings; turn left for the trailhead parking lot.
Catamount Ranch Open Space
This Teller County preserve is a slice of paradise at the end of Edlowe Road, the left turn going west on U.S. 24. Explorers have multiple loop options, including a route to North Catamount Reservoir. At last visit, we leaf-peeped along Elder-Fehn Trail, making it an out-and-back trip of about 6 miles.
If you go: Going west on U.S. 24 through Woodland Park, before reaching Divide, see the left turn for Edlowe Road (also County Road 28). The pavement ends at the open space’s dirt parking lot.
Reached off Rampart Road, Rainbow Gulch is an easy 4-mile out-and-back trail high in Pike National Forest — with added mileage if you decide to continue on the shores of Rampart Reservoir.
If you go: In Woodland Park, turn north onto Baldwin Street at McDonald’s. After about 3 miles, turn right onto Loy Creek Road. After 1½ miles, turn right onto Rampart Range Road. In 2 miles, see the trailhead and parking area to your left.
Lost Creek Wilderness Area
For something more adventurous, set a course to Lost Creek and the Springs’ nearest wilderness area. The drive alone will leave you breathless. Then there are the trails splashed in aspen. The Goose Creek trailhead is a good launch point.
If you go: On U.S. 24 west, continue through Florissant and Lake George. Turn right onto County Road 77. After about 7 miles, turn right onto Matukat Road, which becomes Forest Road 77, which becomes Forest Road 211. Another 11½ miles to trailhead. High-clearance/four-wheel drive vehicle recommended but not required.