Pike National Forest awaits just a short drive from northern Colorado Springs, and Monument Trail No. 715 is a fairly easy hike, making it a great introduction to the area for newcomers and offering a nice getaway to the outdoors for the more advanced hiker.

From the parking area, head west on the old road for one quarter mile to where a rare marker for trail No. 715 signals the trail breaking to the left. Social trails intersect the No. 715 trail, so continue on the well maintained and travelled main trail heading westward toward the base of obvious Mount Herman ahead. This trail section passes through foothills habitat, with some fields of yucca and a large Gambel oak woodland with singing spotted towhees and Woodhouse’s scrub jays squawking around you.

After about half a mile, hikers will reach an obvious fork in the trail and approach stands of conifers. Bear left at the fork. Continuing on the trail, hikers will encounter more forks to the right that lead to Mount Herman Road; just bear left at all of these forks, staying on the main trail that parallels the road. After another half mile, the trail enters stands of ponderosa pine, then swings south and the trail narrows passing through thicker fir forest. Despite being close to the road at this point, hikers will begin to feel as though they’ve successfully escaped into the mountains.

After about another half mile, hikers will enter more Gambel oak woodland and a large open area with a fine view of the plains and Rampart Range. The trail winds west and south into Gambel oak woodland with some stands of conifers and openings with nice views.

After about another half mile, the trail takes a sharp right turn, climbing westward into spruce fir forest around the southern end of Mount Herman. Listen for the “kipping” calls of red crossbills. After about another half mile, the trail drops to some powerlines where hikers will hear North Beaver Creek rushing to the left and a rare marker for trail No. 715. Continue westward for about another mile where the trail swings northward away from the creek for a short distance and intersects with Mount Herman Road. The trail continues on the other side of the road, but this is the endpoint for this hike. Retrace your steps back to parking area.

Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at joelafleur@tds.net. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.

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