The Crags is the quintessential hike of the Pikes Peak region.”

It showcases the best of these foothills: dense forests, open meadows, running water, imposing granite, wildflower colors of the summer and aspen gold of the fall. The trail ends with a magnificent panorama.

You’ll want to get to the trailhead early; the parking lot fills fast, especially on weekends, when summit seekers start here and split for Devil’s Playground. You’ll find that split less than a mile in, after the uphill warmup. The Crags trail continues left, leaving the woods for a sun-splashed meadow with house-sized boulders.

Pinnacles loom ahead, rising over evergreen slopes. Here amid the grasses and shrubbery, dogs delight in a sizable pond. Ahead, vacationers stop for photos with a massive, Hershey Kiss-shaped rock.

They get a taste of rugged Colorado when the thin trail gets lost in a harsh slope of rock and roots. Directional logs mark the way. As long as you’re going straight up, you can’t go wrong.

You come to a scenic ridge, where the trail veers left for the namesake crags. They swell from the ground, continuing upward to startling beauty: sweeping valleys spotted with shimmering reservoirs, the rocky and rolling Pikes Peak Massif and, on a clear day, other 14,000-foot caps of the Sangre de Cristos and Collegiate Peaks.

Contact the writer: 636-0332

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