view from the summit of mt culter hike near colorado springs with yellow granite rock and green foothill mountains

Mt. Cutler Hike in Colorado Springs

Mt. Cutler in Colorado Springs is an easy, 1-mile hike to the summit of a foothill peak that overlooks Seven Falls, the canyon system of Cheyenne Canyon, and offers panoramic views that make this hike a great option for visiting friends and family. Because it's just 2 miles out-and-back with less than 500 feet of elevation gain, this hike offers a lot of reward with less effort. Explore the full Mt. Cutler hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Mt. Culter

trail sign at trailhead for mt cutler in colorado springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Mt. Cutler

From Denver, take Interstate 25 South to Colorado Springs. Exit onto Tejon St. via Exit 140 then take a right onto S. Tejon St. Stay in the right hand lane so that you can turn right onto Cheyenne Boulevard. Follow Cheyenne Blvd. for about 2.5 miles. Here road will fork as it enters Cheyenne Canyon. Take the road to the right that leads into North Cheyenne Canyon. Proceed for about 1.5 miles until you see the Mt. Culter Trailhead roadside parking area on your left. There are no ameneties at the trailhead. The lot will fill fast on the weekends. If it is full, there are other hike options in North Cheyenne Canyon if you continue up the road to Helen Hunt Falls and to the Seven Bridges Hike that also offers a view of a small waterfall, Undine Falls.

trail up to mount cutler near colorado springs

The Hike: Mount Cutler in Cheyenne Canyon

The Mt. Culter trail begins at the blue trailhead sign as a broad path ascends on a gentle grade under the shade of pine trees. The trail passes through some deadfall, evenutally opening out to a more level area where red rock formations have been pushed up into what might otherwise be a dull landscape. Like the Royal Arch in the Flatirons and the formations in Red Rocks Canyon in Colorado Springs, these orange and red granite fins are part of a formation that begins 14,000 feet under the surface and runs almost the entire length of Coloroado.

view from mount cutler trail down into the canyon of seven falls near colorado springs

At approximately 0.8 mile, the views open up to the south, where you can look down into Seven Falls. In the Spring and after a good rain, the distant waterfall is quite stunning. To get a close up tour of the falls, you'll need to make a reservation. See our full trail profile on Seven Falls for more details.

view from the summit of mt. cutler with granite rock in foreground and foothills in background near colorado springs
The last segment of the hike to the summit of Mt. Cutler offers great views to the south and the north. At the Summit of Mt. Cutler, look to the North to take in the foothills and views down into the canyon, and to the Southeast you'll gain views out to the great plains of Colorado. Return via the same trail you hiked to the summit.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Cutler

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south mesa trail hike with ponderosa pines in foreground and flatirons mountains in background near boulder colorado

Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon Creek

The Mesa Trail south of Boulder, Colorado, rambles across wild open country at the base of the iconic Flatirons. Hike a 4.1 mile loop or an 8.4 mile out-and-back option through pine woods, verdant creek draws, and flowering meadows. Explore the full Mesa Trail profile for this southern segment of one of our favorite dog-friendly hikes near Denver.

Trail Snapshot: Mesa Trail South

south mesa trailhead near boulder

Parking & Trailhead Information for the South Mesa Trailhead

Access to South Mesa is from the South Mesa Trailhead off of Eldorado Springs Drive just South of Boulder. From Denver, drive North on interstate 25 to 36 toward Boulder. Take the McCaslin Blvd exit and then go south/west onto McCaslin. At the intersection of McCaslin and Marshall, take a right onto Marshall Road. Marshall will intersect with Eldorado Springs Drive. Here, take a left onto Eldorado Springs Drive. About two miles down the road, you’ll find the South Mesa Trailhead on your right. The South Mesa Trailhead is a part of the Boulder County Open Space and requires a daily parking fee, or an annual pass. I went online and bought an annual parking pass through the Open Space website. This gives you access to all the southern fee parking areas as well as the parking areas on Flagstaff Mountain. There are restrooms at the trailhead.

Alternatively, you can park at NCAR and hike south to the South Mesa Trailhead. If you want to hike this one-way without a return, you can park a car at NCAR or the South Mesa Trailhead. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Trailhead is located about 40 minutes North of Denver. From Denver, follow U.S. Route 36 to Boulder. Take the exit for Table Mesa Drive and follow it west. It will wind through a neighborhood to the end as it winds through the neighborhood and past Bear Creek Elementary School. The road will turn into the Drive for NCAR which winds up and around to a large parking area at the lab.

south boulder creek at south mesa trailhead flowing under bridge and tunnel of willow trees

Waypoints and Hike Options for the South Mesa Hike

  • South Mesa Trailhead to NCAR Trailhead 4.7 Miles - One-Way
  • South Mesa Trailhead to Bear Canyon Creek and Back - 8.4 Miles
  • South Mesa to Bluestem Loop 4.1 Miles - One-Way
  • South Mesa to Chautauqua Park 6.75 Miles - One-Way

The Hike: Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon Creek

From the South Mesa Trailhead just East of Eldorado Springs, this hike begins along the banks of Boulder Creek (pictured above). Cross the bridge and pause to take in the willow trees bending over the creek and creating a tunnel of green above the silver waters. You'll cross another footbridge and emerge onto a broad trail. Soon, you'll come to the first trail junction with the Towhee and Homestead Trails. The Towhee cuts off a bit of distance and will take you back to the Mesa Trail, or just keep following the signs for the Mesa Trail as it wraps around to the west. Either way, the trails will both merge back onto the main Mesa Trail.

The Homestead trail heads west to Shadow Canyon and takes hikers up toward South Boulder and Bear Peaks. Both are more challenging hikes and provide incredible views out to the plains and west to snowcapped peaks.

trail signs for mesa trail

This area of the South Mesa has a lot of side trails and options, so the most important thing to keep in mind is that the Mesa Trail, over its course runs north/south all the way up to Chautauqua Park.

Before you hike, be sure to review the map to get a feel for the area. The trails weave round, so it's easy to just meander around and take in the meadows and surrounding peaks. The trails are all well-marked, so when in doubt, just look for signs indicating the Mesa Trail and continue hiking north (with the foothills on your left). There are a lot of options for shorter hikes, but we will detail the journey up the Bear Creek Canyon and back.

view from mesa trail of sunlit eldorado canyno during morning hike along mesa trail

Early on, you'll gain a great view down into the entrance to Eldorado Canyon. The morning light brings out the pink granite of this range of sharp and angular foothill rock.

The Mesa trail then heads west and up along a gentle slope, then bends north to run parallel with the eastern flanks of the Flatiron range. Along the foothills to the left, you'll see Devils Thumb and the summit of Bear Peak.

As the Mesa Trail continues north, open sky gives way to the shade and scents of ponderosa pine trees then opens back to meadows again. In the Spring, wildflowers push up through the meadow grasses and unique fuana thrives in the unique zone where the foothills of the Front range meet the meadows. It feels humind in verdant creeks draws and dry when you emerge back onto the open Mesa.

Bear Peak in background and meadow in foreground along mesa trail near boulder colorado

If you would like to shorten your hike and make this into a loop hike, at around mile 2, you can take the Bluestem Trail back toward the trailhead. Otherwise, continue north on the Mesa Trail.

This is one of our favorite dog-friendly hikes near Boulder, and it's quite popular with dog owners on the weekends. In fact, just south of the intersection with the Bluestem, just shy of mile 2, there is a spring you'll find a small spring. It's a great place for your pup to get a drink to refuel for the rest of the hike. These trails also allow you to hike with your dog off-leash, if you've taken the Voice and Sight class and have a current Voice and Sight tag issued by Boulder county. You can get more info on this at the Boulder County Open Space site.

south mesa trail winding through meadow and pines at the base of bear peak

The trail will go up and down through several draws, then eventually cross Bear Creek. Here you are about a mile from the NCAR parking lot. If you've parked a car at NCAR, you can then shuttle back for your other vehicle, making this a 4.7 mile hike.

Bear Creek is the turn around point for this trail profile, making it an 8.4 mile out-and-back journey. However, if you want to add a cave to your adventure, continue north, then west for about 1.2 miles following the signs to Mallory Cave. If you have your dog with you, I would not recommend this extra jaunt as the terrain is rocky and steep.

south mesa trail hike with ponderosa pines in foreground and flatirons mountains in background near boulder colorado

Return south on the Mesa Trail and take the Bluestem Trail to cut off a bit of extra hiking.

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Mesa Trail

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pikes peak in distance from fox run park with evergreen trees in foreground

Fallen Timbers Loop Hike at Fox Run Park

The Fallen Timbers Loop is an easy, 2-mile hike near Colorado Springs with great views of Pikes Peak. It makes for a great family hike because of the shade of the ponderosa pines and the nearby playground at this hike in Fox Run Regional Park. Explore the full hike profile for trail map, driving directions, and tips.

Trail Snapshot: Fallen Timbers Loop Hike

parking area near lake with aspen tree along trail at fox run park near colorado springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Fallen Timbers Loop at Fox Run

From Denver, take interstate 25 South and take exit 158 onto Baptist Road (left). Drive East for 2.3 miles and turn right onto Tari Drive. Proceed for about 300 feet, then take a left onto Becky Drive. Go about 1/2 mile and turn left onto Stella Drive. Drive about another 1/2 mile and the entrance to Fox Run park will be on your left. Drive around the loop to the parking area by the pond. This trailhead parking area has a restroom just to the southwest of the parking lot.

The Hike: Fallen Timbers Loop

The trail for the Fallen Timbers loop hike begins on the northeast end of the parking lot. When facing the pond, this will be the wide trail behind you, across the drive, and to the left. This little connector trail will soon come to a junction with the loop trail. I recommend hiking this counter-clockwise, so take a right onto the Fallen Timbers trail to begin the loop.

green lake with changing aspens at fox run park near colorado springs at beginning of the fallen timbers loop hike

The trail works its way through the dappled shade of ponderosa pines and bends to the right (east). You'll encounter a couple trail junctions. At the junctions, stay on the Fallen Timbers trail (bearing right). Just shy of 1 mile into the trail, you'll arrive at the Roller Coaster Road parking area for Fox Run. The trail will continue north past this trailhead. However, there is a restsroom here at the trailhead that is open April through October.

The trail continues north, crossing a footbridge, then begins to bend West (left). Orange blaze markers should mark out the trail.

swan lake frozen over with pines and aspen trees at fox run park near colorado springs fallen timbers loop hike

Along this entire trail, you'll find interpretive signs explaining the impact of the pine beetle and tree bores on the ecosystems of Colorado, and about the local fauna in this area north of Colorado Springs. This makes for a great discussions with the kids about the environment and the impact that even small creatures and lightning can have on forests.

The trail bends South, opening up to great views of Pikes Peak. You'll pass a small trail junction that leads right (west) out to the road. Continue past this and eventually you'll come to a decision to either go left (east) finish this 2-mile loop or bear right and extend your hike to make it a longer 2.5 to 3 mile hike. Consult the Fox Run Trail Map, and follow the wester and southern trails of your choice. However, this profile will follow the rest of the 2-mile loop.

Going right will lead into a central parking area. The trail goes east, cutting through the middle of this circle road and then splits. At the split, take a right to begin the approx. 1/4 mile segment back to the parking area and trailhead.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Fallen Timbers Loop

  • A Great Wedding Spot: I've attended two weddings at Fox Run. It's a beautiful and inexpensive option to host a wedding at the Wedding Gazebo. The gazebo can be reserved through the El Paso County reservation site.
  • Taking Photos: The best time to get a photo of Pikes Peak will be in the early morning hours as the sun is rising over the plains. Photographers can capture some dramatic shots of the mountain as its skirts will still be in darkness and the peak bathed in soft light.
  • Easy but Elevation: This is an easy hike, but if you are traveling to Colorado Springs from lower elevations, the 7300' starting elevation at Fox Run park may make this trail a challenge. if that's the case, take your time and oxygenate by drinking plenty of water.
  • Trail Map: Trail Map for Fox Run Park
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Dave Jacquin , Mariana Wagner , and Nate Zoch for sharing such an amazing photographs of this hike to at Ute Valley Park.
  • After the Hike: Serranos Coffee in Monument

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green meadow looking west to evergreen trees and mountains at ute valley park in colorado springs

Ute Valley Park Loop in Colorado Springs

Ute Valley Park offers an easy 3-mile loop hike in the heart of northern Colorado Springs with views to snow-capped Pikes Peak. The trails make for a quick break from the city to trail run or walk the dog. Get the trail details, map, and driving directions in our full trail profile.

Trail Snapshot: Ute Valley Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for Ute Valley Park

From Denver, take Interstate 25 South to Colorado Springs, exiting on exit 149 and taking a right onto East Woodman Road. East Woodman will turn into Rockrimmon Road. Next, take a right onto Vindicator Drive. The entrance to Ute Valley Park will be up on your left, just after you pass the Middle School. There is a portable toilet at the trailhead and parking for about 20 vehicles.

view of storm clouds over pikes peak at ute valley park in colorado springs

The Hike: Ute Valley Park

Ute Valley Park is nestled in the subdivisions of Colorado Springs, North of the city center providing residents with a quick escape from town for an after work trail run, mountain bike, and place to walk the dog. There are about 20 different unnamed trail segments, but for our purposes, we will look at a 3 mile loop and a shorter 2.5 mile option.

From the trailhead, take the trail that heads south out of the lot and hike west towards the bluffs. This approach will take us on a counterclockwise loop hike of the trails. Alternatively, you can hike it counterclockwise by reversing this description. Ignore the other trails at the juncture and keep and heading south, the trail will gradually rise to gain the low ridge of Popes Bluff. Along this stretch you'll soak in the sunshine and views out to Pikes Peak.

start of rocky trail with conifer trees at ute valley park in colorado springs

This stretch of trail is the longest and goes for about a mile to an overlook at the southwest end of Ute Valley Park. You'll pass through one trail intersection before you come to that overlook point. However, if you want to cut off 1/2 a mile and make this a 2.5 mile loop, take a left at that juncture for a more rugged trail that cuts over to the east side of the park and reconnects with this loop. Though in the city, you'll be taking in the aromatics of ponderosa pine and the same juniper trees that are found along the trails in Garden of the Gods.

Continuing with our 3-mile loop description, at the overlook, you have a couple options, but we'll go straight through on the trail that wraps around the most southern end of Ute Valley. See the Ute Valley Park Trail Map for detail.

After about 0.4 of a mile, the trail will begin turning North, traveling along the eastern edge of the park. You'll encounter about 5-6 trail junctures along this stretch. At each juncture, continue on the easternmost trail (keep bearing to the right, or hike straight through). You'll cross over a footbridge and after approximately another another 1/2 mile will be back at the parking lot.

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lakeshore at palmer lake in palmer lake colorado with willows and cottonwoods and frosted front range mountains in background along santa fe trail hike

Santa Fe Regional Trail in Palmer Lake

The Santa Fe Regional Trail begins in Palmer Lake, Colorado, about 1 hour South of Denver. It's an easy trail with 17 miles from Palmer Lake to Colorado Springs along the old path of the Santa Fe Railroad. Explore the full Santa Fe Regional Trail hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this hike or bike adventure near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Santa Fe Regional Trail

Parking & Trailhead Information: Santa Fe Regional Trail

From Denver, take Interstate 25 south through Castle Rock and Larkspur, exiting onto County Line Road/Palmer Divide Road at exit 163, taking a right onto County Line Road. Stay on County Line Road for about 2.5 miles. Just before crossing the railroad tracks, the entrance to Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Area will be on your left. You'll see a sign and the first parking area. Drive past this parking lot to the larger lot. Here, at this south lot, you'll find restrooms, a playground, and the trailhead for the Santa Fe Regional Trail.

The Hike: Santa Fe Regional Trail

The Santa Fe Regional Trail begins in Palmer Lake and runs South for 17 miles where it merges with the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail. Because the trail follows the railroad grade of an abandoned railroad line, its relatively level, descending about 900 feet on its 17 mile course into Colorado Springs. This makes for a nice family bike ride, especially if you take two cars and drop a shuttle car off at the Edmondson Trailhead on the northern end of Colorado Springs. Here's a map link of both trailheads , and a link to the Edmondson Trailhead with driving directions from Denver.

santa fe train in palmer lake with lake in background along santa fe trail hike

North Trail Segment

In Palmer Lake, you have North and South hiking options. You can go North via the Santa Fe to Greenland Trail Link to pick up the Greenland Trail which winds through the wild green meadows and towering buttes south of Larkspur. That stretch from Palmer Lake to the Greenland Open Space Trailhead is 5.4 miles.

hay bales and cottonwood trails near palmer lake along santa fe trail hike

South Trail Segment

The South Trail segment of the Santa Fe Regional Trail runs through Palmer Lake and the town of Monument. Just south of Baptist Road the trail enters the Air Force Academy and runs parallel for a while with interstate 25. Then the trail makes a hard bend to the west, taking hikers and bikers away from the noise of the roads and winding
through into the draw of Monument Creek. It then bends its way behind (West of) the Air Force Academy airfield. This segment gives visitors a unique view of the Academy seen by few people. The trail then exits the Academy and enters the City of Colorado Springs. Just south of the Edmondson Trailhead, the Santa Fe Regional Trail merges onto the Pikes Peak Greenway.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Santa Fe Regional Trail

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view to pikes peak from eagle view outlook at reynolds park near conifer colorado

Eagles View Hike in Reynolds Park

The Eagles View Loop hike in Reynolds Park is a 4-mile, moderate, loop trail to a scenic outlook. The trail ascends through meadows and ponderosa pine forest to views of Pikes Peak and the sawtooth spires and peaks of the Rampart Range. Explore the full Reynolds Park Eagle View Loop hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Conifer, Colorado.

Trail Snapshot: Reynolds Park Eagle View Loop

reynolds park trailhead in winter near conifer colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Reynolds Park

I really enjoy the drive into Reynolds Park, particularly for the last stretch descending to the trailhead. The trailhead is about 50 minutes from downtown Denver. From Denver, take 285 South to Conifer, Colorado taking the Kennedy Gulch exit. At the exit, you'll take a left onto Kennedy Gulch Road, which will go under the 285 overpass. At the next stop sign, you'll see a red barn in front of you and an entrance to 285 on your right. Here, you'll take a left onto Foxton Road. This is where that beautiful stretch of road begins. Drive for about 5 miles and the Reynolds Park parking area will be on your right. The parking area can hold about 45 vehicles. There are restrooms, picnic tables, and grills at the trailhead.

The Hike: Eagles View Loop at Reynolds Park

view toward eastern foothills along eagle view loop at eagle view outlook at reynolds park near conifer colorado

This loop hike gives hikers the most extensive exploration of the larger West side of Reynolds park. Begin by taking the main trail found on the south end of the parking lot (near the restrooms). It's wider than the other trails. At the first junction, take a right onto the Elkhorn Trail. This will lead through a mix of wooded areas and meadow.

trail for eagles view loop with signs and snow on ground at reynolds park colorado

Hikers will travel about 0.3 mile on this segment of the Elkhorn Trail until it intersects with the Ravens Roost Trail. Here, take the Ravens Roost trail which is more steep, ascending for 0.6 of a mile up to the next junction with the Eagles View Trail. Both the Ravens Roost and Eagles View trails are Hiker and Equestrian Only (no bikes, but dogs are allowed). You'll travel through stands of ponderosa pine. Look for Clarks Nutcracker and Stellar Jays as you hike. At the junction, the Eagles View Trail will bear to the right (pictured below).

eagles view trail signs at reynolds park near conifer winter hike
The trail will eventually open up to panoramic views, with the Eagles View scenic viewpoint being the best.

At the viewpoint, there are expansive views of the Rampart Range, and pikes Peak to the South. The Rampart Range is a low mountain range that stretches from south of Denver to Colorado Springs. The range is characterized by scraggy granite peaks jutting out of green forested foothills. At sunrise the granite rock formations light up orange and pink, and look like a series of castles or the rampart wall of a giant ancient fortress. My favorite view of the Rampart Range is from the Devils Head trail and from the Fire Lookout Tower up on Devils Head. It's the tallest peak in the range with an elevation of 9632 feet.

view from the eagles view scenic viewpoint along eagles view loop hike at reynolds park hike near Conifer Colorado

eagle view outlook in reynolds park near conifer colorado with views toward cathedral spires and pikes peak in the south with pine trees in the foreground

From the scenic point at Eagles View, the trail begins to descend and wind its way north. Pause on this segment to take in the views into the valley below and out to the distant plains in the East.

dirt trail on east side of Eagles view trail in Reynolds Park near Conifer Colorado

Eventually, the trail will come to another juncture with the Ravens Roost (south segment) and the Oxen Draw Trail. Both are options back to the Trailhead. Taking the Ravens Roost trail makes for a longer 4.4 miles total. Taking the Oxen Draw trail will make your total trip around 4 miles.

snowy trail junction of oxen draw and ravens roost trail with signage alongside trail at reynolds park near conifer colorado

When I hikes this in the Winter, the Oxen Draw Trail got quite icy from a recent thaw and freeze. I'm assuming this is pretty normal for this shaded area of the park during the cold months. I wish I had brought my traction devices because the trail had some steep and sketchy, ice-coated segments. I had my trekking poles, and they helped, but it was difficult to navigate.

icy trail along oxen draw trail at reynolds park near conifer colorado

You may notice that I've marked this as a dog-friendly hike. Most of the year that's true, but these icy segments of the Oxen Draw Trail in the Winter may not be the best for your best friend. Overall, though this hike has proven to be one of the lesser traveled trails near Denver--especially on a weekday. Be sure to watch the video below to get a feel for the hike.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

Tips & Resources for Hiking at Reynolds Park in Jefferson County

  • Trekking Poles and Traction: If you are hiking in the Winter or Spring, the this trail (as you can see from the photos above) can get icy and muddy. Trekking Poles and Traction Devices are recommended for these seasons. I'm a huge fan of trekking poles because they take so much impact off the knees when hiking and backpacking, and they allow us to navigate more demanding terrain. Check out Trekking Pole options at REI.
  • Camping: There are 5 tent camping areas on the East end of Reynolds Park that require only a short hike in and make for a good way to introduce your kids or family to a weekend camping trip without having to travel far from Denver. You can reserve a campsite at the Idylease Campground at the Jefferson County Parks Reservations Page. The campground is just a 1/2 mile hike in and has restrooms--but no drinking water--available at the site.
  • Trail Map: Reynolds Park in Jefferson County Park Map
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Scooters Smokehouse BBQ

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Hike at Red Rock Open Space in Colorado Springs looking North across meadow to Garden of the Gods in the distnce

Red Rock Canyon Hikes

Red Rock Canyon Open Space features miles of easy hiking trails just a few miles west of Colorado Springs with views of Pikes Peak to the West and Garden of the Gods to the North. The park has two off-leash dog trails and most other trails are accessible to and shared by hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. Check out the full Red Rock Canyon Open Space hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more five different hike options to explore at this park near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Parking & Trailhead Information for Red Rock Canyon Open Space

From Denver, take Interstate 25 south to Colorado Springs, taking the Cimarron St/24 West. Proceed about 3 miles West on Cimarron/24 and take a left onto Ridge Road. At the roundabout, take a left (by going around 3/4 of the roundabout). The parking lot and trailhead for Red Rock Canyon will be on your right.

From the trailhead hikers can pick up two of the main trail arteries, the Mesa Trail that works its way through the middle of the park, and the Red Rock Canyon Trail, which runs along the east side. Both lead toward the most popular destination, the quarry.

trail leading to old quarry at red rock canyon open space in colorado springs

5 Hike Options in Red Rock Canyon Open Space

    • The Dog Loops: 1/2 and 1 mile

The upper dog loop is an approximately one-mile curcuit, while the lower is about 1/2mile. Both are great options for a quick walk with the dog after work in a space set aside for off-leash exercise and play. You'll find these two off-leash dog trails immediately South of the parking lot.

quarry pond in foreground and red rock formations on snowy afternoon with pikes peak in background on hike at red rock canyon open space in colorado springs

    • Contemplative-Sand Canyon Loop: 1.75 miles

This short loop hike offers more peace and quite because it's tucked away along some of the red rock formations, and the Contemplative Trail segment is designated a hiker-only trail. Pick up the Contemplative trail by starting at the Sand Canyon Trail (West end of the parking lot). This will lead to the Contemplative Trail. You can hike the Contemplative Trail out-and-back, but hikers also have a loop option by joining back up with the Sand Canyon Trail and taking it back to the parking lot.

ruins of old quarry at red rock canyon open space on hike in colorado springs

    • The Quarry Loop: 2 Miles

The most interesting destination in Red Rock Canyon is the old Quarry. If you've been in downtown Denver or Colorado Springs, you've probably seen old houses and buildings built with Red Rock cut from quarries like this one. One 2-mile loop option starts by taking the Red Rock Canyon trail to the east side of the Quarry (pick this trail up from the East end of the parking lot). This will run along to the back side of the quarry where you can take the old miner's steps up the side of the red rock. Once up and over, take the Quarry Pass Trail to the Mesa Trail, and hike the Mesa Trail North back to the parking area.

quarry steps at red rock open space on hike in colorado springs

    • Hogback Valley-Lion Loop: 3.3 Miles

Starting at the east parking lot, pick up the Lower Hogback Tail. The trail will lead up to the Red Rock Rim Trail, then the Hogback Valley Trail taking you into a mesa of meadows with views into Colorado Springs and of Pikes Peak. Take a trail map with you as several trails will tie in together. Connect with the Lion Trail (the upper Codell Trail is more demanding, so be aware of this if choosing that option). Taking the Lion Trail North (right), it will lead back towards the parking area.
dirt trail leading toward foothills south of red rock open space on hike in colorado springs

    • Mesa-Greenlee Loop: 3 Miles

This is probably the best hike in the park because it takes hikers through the heart of Red Rock Canyon along the gentle ridge of mesa where you can take in expansive views up to Pikes Peak and out to Garden of the Gods. Start at the Mesa Trail, taking it to the Southern end of the park where it connects with the Greenlee Trail. Return North via the Greenlee Trail to make this a 3 mile loop hike.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Red Rock Canyon Open Space

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crags hike spires of pink granite with snowcapped mountains in background and pine trees in foreground

Crags Hike Near Colorado Springs

The Crags Trail takes hikers up a 2-mile gradual hike to the the dramatic granite pinnacles on the shoulders of Pikes Peak to take in views of snowcapped peaks. A shaded creekside hike great for families and out-of-town guests, the Crags shows off summer wildflowers in mountain meadows. Explore the full Crags hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Pikes Peak region.

Trail Snapshot: The Crags near Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for The Crags

From Denver, you can get to the Crags by driving a direct route via I25 and HWY 24 or you can take a more Scenic Route through the foothills on 67.

The Direct Route

Take interstate 25 south to Colorado Springs, exit at 141 onto US 24 West. You'll drive for about 25 miles into the mountains and through the small town of Divide. Turn left/south onto Hwy 67. Signs should point the way to Mueller State park, which is also on this stretch of road. Just after the entrance to Mueller (on the left), the road you need for the Crags is on the left, CO RD 62. Taking a left onto 62, and drive for about 3 miles. The parking area for the Crags will be on the right side of the road and the trail will start on the left side of the road. Note that this last segment of road is improved dirt road, so the quality of the drive will depend on the current conditions, and may require 4WD in the Winter months.

The Scenic Route

From Denver, take Hwy 285 South toward Pine Junction. Take a left onto Pine Valley road. Here your journey becomes scenic and the roads curvy. Pay close attention while driving and be prepared for the drive to take longer than the 2 hours and 15 minutes posted by mapping software. You'll have some beautiful segments in here, especially the drive along the South Platte River. Cell service is spotty out here, so I always recommend having on hand the Colorado Gazetteer Map printed by DeLorme. The Road changes names to Deckers Road when it passes through the Buffalo Creek area. Eventually, it Deckers road will weave its way down into Deckers. There is a small restaurant here where we've stopped for ice cream. In Deckers, you'll continue straight (south) on 67, passing through Westcreek, until it ends at a stoplight in Woodland Park. Go right at the light, West on 24, until you come again to Hwy 67 just outside of Divide. Then follow the directions above on 67 to the Crags Trailhead.

The Hike: The Crags

This is my favorite hike in the Pikes Peak Region because it's relatively easy, shows off a variety of landscapes, and has incredible views at the top. The trail starts off at the end of the Crags Campground loop and follows the drainage of Fourmile creek. Early on, hikers will come to a fork in the trail. The left-side branch is a more demanding hike, gaining elevation more quickly and has less shade. This trail profile will follow the right-branch, which is more gradual and offers more shade than the left branch. The left branch and right branch can be connected via a scramble at the top to form a loop trail. If taking this route, be aware of the conditions (snow and ice accumulate October through June). Scrambling is fun, but it's also easy to find yourself in a difficult and dangerous circumstance.

trail at sunset at the crags near colorado springs hike with purple clouds and evergreen trees in background

Taking the right branch, the trail will follow alongside Fourmile creek through evergreens and aspens until it opens out into a broad valley surrounded by orange and pink granite cliffs. Wildflowers, like the Indian Paintbrush, bloom in these meadows during the summer months. An interesting fact about Indian Paintbrush: the "flowers" are actually its leaves and there are oranges, reds, and even yellow types of this plant in Colorado.

indian paintbrush red wildflowers on the crags trail hike near colorado springs

In the valley, the trail will come to another fork. The main route goes straight up a gradual ascent to the crags and the right-branch is more steep, leading to another vista point. Continuing on the main route, the trail makes its way up gentle slopes, the grassy terrain giving way to cubic granite rock.

trail along the crags hike near colorado springs with hiker and dog below on trail and sunlit rock formation above cliffs in top of photo

The pink and orange granite pinnacles come into view and the ground eventually opens up to a broad area where hikers gain views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the south, of Pikes Peak, and Mueller State Park. This hike is great for families, but do keep a close eye on children as the rock gives way to steep segments of cliffs at the edges.

crags rock formations of pink granite on crags trail near colorado springs

I'm not sure what the locals have named this formation pictured below, but I think of it as the Twin Bears, because it looks like a couple bears sitting on their haunches taking in the views.

twin bears rock formation at the crags hike near colorado springs

I considered grading this an easy hike because the trail is so gradual, the total elevation gain is under 1000 feet. However, those who are hiking with kids or out-of-town guests, should consider it more moderate because it's almost 5 miles total and does gain 800 feet. It makes for a perfect picnic hike with friends.

hiker looking toward mountains on rock formation at crags trail near colorado springs

If hiking in the later hours of the day, it's important to know that because most of the hike is in the folds of the mountain, it gets dark quickly. I always pack my headlamp, but it's especially relevant if you are hiking during these hours.

rock pinnacles at the crags hike near colorado springs pink and orange granite with evergreen trees in foreground

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

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fall colors along highway 67 between divide and cripple creek colorado on the way to horsethief falls hike

Horsethief Falls Hike Near Colorado Springs

Horsethief Falls is a small slab waterfall located 45 minutes from Colorado Springs on the West side of Pikes Peak. The Horsetheif Falls trail requires a 1.4-mile easy hike (one-way) to the falls. This hike, along with nearby Pancake Rocks make for great fall hiking and a scenic falls drive to see the golden aspens of the Colorado Front Range. The Horsethief Falls Trails joins up with two other trails if you would like to add more time to your adventure and explore the rock formations of this unique area. See the full Horsethief Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Horsethief Falls Hike

Horsethief Falls Trailhead Directions

Horsethief Falls trailhead is located just off of Highway 67 about halfway between Divide and Cripple Creek, Colorado. From Divide, turn south on Highway 67 and drive approximately 9.3 miles until you spot a closed railroad tunnel on the left side of the road. Just past the tunnel the road will bend and the trailhead parking area is on the left side of the road. Zoom in on the driving directions map at the bottom of this post to get a better visual on the parking area.

aspens and evergreens on the west side of pikes peak near pancake rocks and horsethief falls

The Hike: Horsethief Falls Trail

The Horsethief Falls Trail begins on right side of the old tunnel exit, following a wide dirt path steadily uphill before eventually flattening out. The elevation gain for this hike is just a bit over 500', so we considered grading its difficulty-level as moderate. However, because it's just 1.4 miles one-way, we kept it in the Easy hikes category.

The trail will cross the shallow creek at about 0.7 mile in. Here, hikers will encounter the first intersection. The Ring the Peak Trail (marked "Horsethief Park Trail" on the map) bears to the left, but the way up to Horsethief Falls is to continue straight on the Horsethief Falls Trail. Crossing the creek again the trail will soon intersect, at about 0.9 mile, with the Pancake Rocks Trail (on the right). Again, continue straight on the Horsetheif Falls trail. In this area, you'll be able to take in views to the northeast of Sentinel Point. This is an almost perfect area to take in the changing aspens along the forests surrounding Pikes Peak.

The trail will bend to the right (south) and cross over the creek once again and make its way up to the base of Horsethief Falls.

horsethief falls waterfall near cripple creek colorado

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lost lake near nederland colorado with indian peaks mountains in background

Lost Lake Hike Near Nederland

Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of the trail, the creeksides, and the small meadows that open up along the trail. In the winter months, the trail up to Lost Lake makes for a good snowshoeing route and cross-country trail. trail (though it's a bit steep on the way up

While we categorize Lost Lake as a family-friendly hike and a great trail to take in the changing colors of Fall, it's important to know that the hike is uphill and demanding up to its destination. Explore the full Lost Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Trail Snapshot: Lost Lake Trail near Nederland, Colorado

Parking & Trailhead Information for Lost Lake Hike

Parking is very limited at the Hessie Trailhead, so be sure to take some time to review these details before departing for your hike. Because the Hessie trailhead is one of the most popular in the state, Boulder County offers a shuttle that runs from Nederland every 15-20 minutes on weekends during the Summer months and on some holidays. For full details on the Hessie Trailhead Shuttle, please see the Boulder County page for the shuttle service. This shuttle departs from the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland.

Directions to Hessie Trailhead

At the roundabout in Nederland, Colorado, drive south onto CO-119/South Bridge St. Take a right onto Eldora Road which will take you to Elodora Colorado. The road continues through Eldora, and changes to Eldorado Road. It proceeds out of town and changes its name to Hessie Road. About 3/4 of a mile outside of Eldora, the road will split, 4th of July Road goes to the right, and Hessie will turn to the left. The 2WD Hessie Trailhead Parking area is at this split. Do not park alongside the road, as you will likely be fined. If the parking area is full, then go back to Nederland for the shuttle (weekends and holidays). There is parking for 4WD vehicles further up the dirt road and closer to the beginning of the official trail. It's important to know that rains can quickly flood this segment of Hessie Road.

The Hike: Lost Lake Trail

If taking the shuttle, it will drop you off at the 2WD parking area. From here, hikers will follow a trail for that runs along the north side of the 4WD dirt road. The trail runs past a small pond and will keep to the right-side of the 4WD Hessie Trailhead road until it arrives at the official trailhead. Keep your eyes peeled for Moose who frequent these waterlogged meadows along this lowland segment of the trail. At approximately 1/2 mile from the shuttle drop, a sign marks the site of the old mining town of Hessie, Colorado.

old four wheel drive road and trail with sign marking former town site of Hessie Colorado

Soon, the trail will cross the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek via a footbridge and a large sign will map and describe the several trails and destinations that can be accessed from this point. Hikers will continue on this old mining road as it leads uphill towards both Lost Lake and the intersection for the trails that lead to Devil's Thumb Lake, Jasper Lake, Woodland Lake, King Lake, and Bob and Betty Lakes. This trail profile will describe the route to Lost Lake only.

The next 1.2 miles climbs by way of switchbacks over rocky and steep terrain. Wildflowers pepper the trailsides and the riparian zone along Middle Boulder Creek. At the first trail intersection (Devils Thumb and Devils Thumb Bypass Trails), a sign will mark the way to Lost Lake and give distances and point the direction to the other destinations. Here the trail to Lost Lake will go left and cross another footbridge. Soon, a waterfall and set of cascades will come into view. The trail will make its way to a second intersection and sign. Here, the trail for Lost Lake departs, once again, to the left.

waterfall through rocks of middle boulder creek near lost lake in indian peaks wilderness

From this point, Lost Lake is just 1/2 mile away. It's a steep segment but worth the views when you arrive. At Lost Lake, hikers can explore the outside circuit of its shores (this will add both time and distance to the hike). Return via the same trails.

blue rippled lake with evergreens and mountains with blue and clouded sky at lost lake indian peaks wilderness colorado

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Lost Lake Trail

  • TIP: Parking is very limited at the trailhead, so try to arrive before 7am. Review trailhead information above for seasonal weekend and holiday shuttle from Nederland.
  • CAMPING: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks Alliance page for details.
  • USFS Indian Peaks: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks USFS Page page for details.
  • TIP: The trail is rocky so it would be a good idea to bring trekking poles.
  • Trail Map for Lost Lake Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Tim and Brad Fagan and Eric Frazier for sharing photographs of this hike on Lost Lake.
  • After the Hike: Sundance Cafe, Nederland

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