Section 16 Hike near Manitou Springs

Nestled between Manitou Springs on the west and Colorado Springs on the east, the Manitou Section 16 Open Space overlaps with the Red Rock Canyon Open Space to the north, just off Highway 24. Both of these systems connect to two other regional parks, creating a massive complex of trails that delights hikers of all ages and abilities. This route follows three trails through two territories for one heckuva hike! For the eager, this route can be augmented with the Mt. Buckhorn hike, and even the Seven Bridges & Kineo Mountain hike for the all-day trekker.

The surprising aspect of this Section 16 hike is its immediacy -- within minutes of turning off the highway the trailhead appears. Within minutes of leaving the trailhead the cityscape disappears. Even better, this hike delights hikers in all seasons: the new growth of spring, the full blossom of summer, the changing colors of fall, and the magically reflective light of winter's snow. Explore the full Section 16 Hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this year-round adventure just south of Denver.

Trail Snapshot: Section 16 Trail

moon and sunrise on the mountain on section 16 hike near colorado springs

The moon illuminates High Drive near the trail junction for Section 16 Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for Section 16 Trail

From Denver, cruising south on I-25, take exit 141 for Highway 24 West. After approximately 1.5 miles, turn left (south) onto 21st Street, and then shortly thereafter, right (west) onto Lower Gold Camp Road. Staying straight through the 4-way stop (junction with Bear Creek Road), the Palmer Red Rock (Section 16 Open Space) trailhead is just under one mile up on the right. This parking lot offers about a dozen head-in spots and fills fast; another pullout parking lot is available up the road on the left.

Section 16 parking lot Trailhead

Section 16 Trailhead

The Hike: Section 16 Trail in Red Rock Canyon Open Space

While many hikers jump straight into the trek by ascending the stairs at the trailhead, taking a counter-clockwise tack, the following notes describe a clockwise path. This direction provides a spectacular viewing angle on Pike's Peak, and positions hikers for a fun descent through the trees at the end.

Leaving the parking lot, continuing up Gold Camp Road (which actually heads southwest), the route joins High Drive after 1/4-mile just as the road turns sharply left. High Drive meanders up into the backcountry past split-rail fences, over rock bridges, and through wide slot canyons. At approximately the 1-mile mark, the junction for the Section 16 Trail branches off to the right.

Section 16 Trailhead marker

Section 16 trail junction off of High Drive

Now on Section 16 trail officially, the trail weaves in and out of forest, gently ascending toward a top elevation of nearly 7,900ft. At this point, around the 3.5 miles, watch for a connector trail shooting off to the left. For the curious, a short jaunt out and back affords sweeping views of peaks around Manitou Springs, as well as Garden of the Gods outside Colorado Springs.

trail junction along Section 16

One of many junctions along the Section 16 Trail

Staying right and beginning a descent, the Section 16 Trail continues another 3/4-mile to an excellent excursion on an unmarked overlook trail. The tributary is heavily trafficked and easy to identify: it runs straight out from the main trail just prior to a moderate lefthand descent deep into the forest and rounds of switchbacks. The overlook ridge out-and-back adds approximately 3/4-mile to the overall milage of this loop. Once at the ridge edge, the sprawling plains of Colorado Springs spread out like a carpet from the forest's edge. Turning back toward the main trail, hikers gaze on Pike's Peak, perched between two converging foothill peaks.

ridge scramble overlook

Rugged marker for a regal overlook

ridge scramble overlook Pike's

Pike's Peak graced with the moon as a crown

The last part of the Section 16 Hike loop presents hikers with multiple connector trails. Generally staying straight, the trail flows back down and out of the valley approximately 2.25 miles to the parking lot.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Section 16 in the Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Colorado Springs from Section 16 Trail

Colorado Springs viewed from the Section 16 Trail


Map & Driving Directions

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Indian Creek Loop Hike

The Indian Creek Trail is tucked away outside of Sedalia, CO, just under an hour's drive from Denver, you find a trailhead leading to a vast internal system of trails that links up to the Colorado Trail, Roxborough State Park, and Nelson Ranch Open Space. The number of configurations you can devise awaits your creativity...and endurance! The Indian Creek Campground opens the door to trails meandering up and through the Pike National Forest with frequent vistas out into the valleys west and north. Explore the full Indian Creek Loop hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the San Isabel National Forest.


Devil's Head looms in the distance

Viewing Devil's Head from Indian Creek Loop

Parking & Trailhead Information for Indian Creek

The easiest waypoint for GPS is the Indian Creek Campground, which sits just west of the Rampart Range Riding Area on Highway 67. Once you pass the Rampart Range entrance the road curves and winds down a hill; at the bottom the parking lot appears off to the right with a lone bathroom. Park here; do not go up the road to the actual campground. The trailhead begins about 15 paces beyond the bathroom, up the hill. Look for the sign for Trail #800.

The Hike: Indian Creek Loop

The trail begins winding through aspen, oak, and evergreen. You'll immediately notice the clean, earthy air rising up from the forest floor. The initial stretch of the trail provides ample shade, and at approximately 0.5 mile, the trail opens up to its first vista. As the trail turns sharply right, the unofficial trail bends left up a small hill to a clearing with views down into the valley and a massive lean-to teepee tree.

lean-to teepee tree

Continuing up, soon another vista opens up off to the left with sight line down the valley and onto the next ridge line, and then at approximately 1.5 mile the trail reaches a junction with the fire road (FR) and Ringtail Trail. (If you follow Ringtail toward Thomas Hill, the trails opens up to th north. On a clear day you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Denver!) Staying straight to continue on the FR, the trail descends to approximately 2.3 mile to reach the next trail junction. Here you have options: take a sharp left to join Steven's Gulch Trail (the present track), veer right toward Roxborough State Park, or stay straight for a longer loop that will wrap back around to the present track. As the trail descends to the left, it reveals a snug little meadow swimming in prairie grasses--perfect playground for the deer often passing through.

meadow of ferns

Now, the hike becomes pure descent to approximately 4.25 mile and the junction with the Colorado Trail. (This is where the longer loop mentioned above rejoins the present track.) You know you're close when you spy an old broken down cabin nestled along the shore of the stream. Here, the loop route goes left onto the Colorado Trail.

All along the descent and this return ascent, thick foliage, flowers, ferns, and the occasional patch or puddle of mud keep you company. It's fascinating terrain that also hosts horse riders from time to time, so watch your step! At 5.0 mile the Colorado Trail continues straight but an alternate Indian Creek Trail pulls sharply right. Staying straight on the Colorado Trail the trail begins another descent.

wildflowers along Indian creek

While this loop hike follows a stream almost all the way, you get the pleasure of a stream crossing at approximately 6.25 mile when it meets up with Bear Creek. From here the trail bends its way up and out of the shallow canyon, past the equestrian stables and campground, and back to the parking lot.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Indian Creek Loop

  • TIP: Wildlife is active in this area. Be sure to let someone know your hiking itinerary, or take a hiking partner with you.
  • TIP: Familiarize yourself with the various trail junctions that intersect in this area. You can trek to Roxborough, connect to the Colorado Trail, or end up in an open space...on accident if you're not aware! Also, keep an eye on the weather as it can change suddenly along the Front Range.
  • Trail Map: Indian Creek Loop
  • 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: If you need breakfast, hit up the local fave, O'Brien's Cafe, or catch a pizza-pie at PieZano's


Map & Driving Directions

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pikes peak in background with manitou lake in foreground near colorado springs

Manitou Lake Hike Near Colorado Springs

Manitou Lake near Colorado Springs offers a pleasant and easy loop trail around its shores with views of Pikes Peak. It's also a great spot fishing and paddling on the 5-acres of water. There are nearby camping options detailed below. Explore the full Manitou Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, campground info and more.

Trail Snapshot: Manitou Lake Loop Hike

morning light breaking through old log cabin shelter at manitou lake

Shelter Pavilion at Manitou Lake

Parking & Trailhead Information for Manitou Lake

Interstate Route

From Denver, take Interstate 25 South to Colorado Springs. Exit onto 24 West and drive US Highway 24 about 18 to Woodland Park. In Woodland Park, take HWY 67 North for about 7.5 miles. Manitou Lake will be on the east side of the highway.

Scenic Route

The scenic route and interstate route take about the same amount of time, but there will likely be less traffic on this trip. There are a lot of curves though, so be prepared for that aspect of the drive. From Denver, take 285 South toward Pine Junction. Take a left onto Pine Valley Road, which curves around through some beautiful Front Range landscapes, goes through Pine and just outside of Buffalo Creek the road changes names to Deckers Road. Follow Deckers road until it terminates at US 67 in Deckers. In Deckers, take US 67 South (right) for 15.7 miles. Manitou Lake will will be on the lefthand (east) side of the road.

Trailhead and Facilities

Manitou Lake is heavily used in the Summer months and weekends and has limited parking. There are two vault toilet, one across from the pavillion and one adjacent to the parking loop area. The pavillion can be reserved for a fee from site. It's important to note when reserving that each vehicle is still required to pay the day use access fee. There are several access trails that run from the parking area to the main trail that circles the lake.

manitou lake near colorado springs with pikes peak in the background along hike

The Hike: Manitou Lake

Beginning at the access trail near the pavillion, head toward the lake to pick up the main trail near a small dock. Head north (left) hiking along the western shore of the lake. You'll pass another small fishing dock, then come to a trail intersection. Go right, crossing the small footbridge spanning Trout Creek, the small creek that feeds the reservoir.

Continue following the trail along the northern edge of Manitou Lake as it eventually bends toward the south. Here, you'll be able to take in the best views of Pikes Peak. This is why we recommend hiking the loop clockwise instead of counter clockwise. Stop to take in Summer wildflowers that grow in the meadows surrounding the lake.

western tanager bird in meadows near manitou lake colorado

Western Tanager at Manitou Lake

The trail will then enter and exit a small stand of ponderosa pines. Then the trail bends to the west and crosses a marshland. Be alert for herons and other wildlife in this wetland segment of the trail. The dirt path becomes a boardwalk on this final segment of the trail.

Longer Hike Options

There are ways to extend your hike and explore other areas around Manitou Lake. The first is a trail segment north of the lake, near the bridge that leads along Trout Creek. This is an undeveloped social trail created by fisherman, so it's a non-destination trail and has a lot of small spurs to access the creek. The second trail leads South to the Colorado Campground site. The third is the 4.2 mile segment of bike trail that runs alongside highway 67 connecting the campgrounds and Manitou Lake.

Camping Near Manitou Lake

There are several campgrounds along highway 67 near Manitou Lake to serve the Pikes Peak Region. Here's a list from the southern end to the north with links to their reservation pages. All of these campsites are close to Woodland Park andn great places to basecamp for exploring the surrounding Colorado Springs area. All have toilets and water.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Manitou Lake

  • Fishing: The Department of Wildlife stocks Manitou lake with Rainbow and Cutbow Trout. The beaver ponds above lake along Trout Creek are also good spots to fish.
  • Dogs at Manitou Lake: Manitou Lake is a great spot to take your dog for a walk. Because it is a reservoir, dogs must be kept out of the water and leashed at all times.
  • Trail Map: Manitou Lake
  • 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 Patricia Henschen for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike at Manitou Lake near Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: The Donut Mill. The Donut Mill serves epic donuts. That's not an overstatement. The donuts are gigantic and dream-inducing (perhaps from the sugar coma). They cost more than most donut places, but if you are a donut lover, this place is not to be missed. Their biscuits and gravey also are a worth noting.


Map & Driving Directions

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flatirons in boulder colorado along hike with spruce tree in foreground

Chautauqua Loop Trail in Boulder

The Chautauqua Trail is an easy 3.6 mile loop hike along Boulder's Flatirons. The trails pass several historical sites: a quarry, cabin, shelter, and ski area as it weaves through the meadows and ponderosa forest of Chautauqua Park. About 40 minutes from Denver, the Chautauqua Loop hike makes for a great hike for visitors who are looking for stunning landscapes without the long drive or elevation gain.

Trail Snapshot: Chautauqua Loop Hike

view of the chautauqua meadow at the base of boulder's flatirons

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Chautauqua Loop

The trailhead for Chautauqua Park is located downtown in the City of Boulder. The park's 58 parking spaces fill quickly, so plan to arrive early. Alternatively, when the lot is full, hikers can park along Baseline Road and side streets, just be sure to respect the neighbors by parking at least 5 feet from driveways. There are bike racks at the trailhead, so you can bike in from other lots in town, or take the Park-to-Park Shuttle that operates on the weekends and on holidays from the Saturday around Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend. Here's a map of the free parking lots and shuttle stop locations.

Get a map, fill up your water bottle, and get trail advice from locals at the Ranger Cottage, which is located at the trailhead. See the Ranger Cottage site for current hours and closure information.

The Hike: Chautauqua Loop

Beginning at the Ranger Cottage, head south on the Bluebell Road Trail. This first segment leads up a gentle slope to its intersection with the Mesa trail. The Mesa trail takes us into our first lollipop loop and to Woods Quarry. After about 0.2 of a mile, you'll come to another trail intersection. Heading right, takes you on a counter-clockwise loop and up to Woods Quarry. The quarry was used in the early years of Boulder for building homes and sidewalks out of its iconic red and orange sandstone.

After the quarry, the trail will bend north and return to the Mesa Trail. At the intersection, notice an old stone structures, the Roosa Cabin.

Continue north on the Mesa Trail back up to the Bluebell Road Trail. Go west (left) onto Bluebell Road. Soon you'll encounter another stone structure, the Bluebell Shelter (pictured below). Built in the early 1900's and preserved in the 1930's by the CCC, the historic shelter has become a Chautauqua landmark, undergoing some more recent restoration. This is a great place to have a picnic, and can be reserved for special events.

shelter along the bluebell road trail in chautauqua park boulder with flatirons in background

Now we begin heading into the northern and larger loop of this hike. The Bluebell Road Trail becomes the Bluebell-Baird trail and weaves its way north along the base of the Flatirons. If you are interested in hiking the Flatirons, explor our trail profile for the First and Second Flatirons Hike. You'll enter tall stands of Ponderosa pines with views out to the meadows of the northern meadows.

view of the flatirons in boulders chatauqua park with meadow in foreground and fog lifting

Notice the interpretive signs along the full hike and stop to read the history of the old ski jump that was in operation post WW2 into the early 1960's. Pass by the Ski Jump Trail and continue northwest until you come to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead. Gregory Canyon is also a beautiful hike (see our Gregory Canyon trail profile for details). Take a right (heading east) onto the Baseline Trail. This will take you past the old ski jump and the site of a CCC camp that operated here during the years of the Great Depression.

view from chautauqua park looking north toward settlers park red rock formations in boulder colorado

The Baseline trail will lead back to the trailhead to complete this 3.6 mile hike.

Tips & Resources for Hiking the Chautauqua Loop

  • Bring Snacks and Water: It probably goes without saying, but be sure to bring food and water to refill your tank. This hike demands it.
  • Bring Your Camera: This area along the Flatirions is picturesque, especially in the early morning light.
  • Keep and Eye on the Weather: Talking to one of the rangers, he shared that storms can come up quickly along the Flatirons, which will catch hikers unawares. The Flatirons area is like a lot of other mountain hikes, storms typically roll in during the early afternoon.
  • Trail Map for Chautauqua Loop: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Dave Dugdale for sharing his photograph of the Bluebell Shelter.
  • After the Hike: Ozo Coffee in Boulder, Colorado

above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge hike finder


Map & Driving Directions

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man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver

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.

tshirt in blue midnight heather color with flatirons and words wear authentic colorado threads shop our store overlay text on image

Tips & Resources for Hiking Mt. Cutler


Map & Driving Directions

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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


Map & Driving Directions

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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.

tshirt in blue midnight heather color with flatirons and words wear authentic colorado threads shop our store overlay text on image

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


Map & Driving Directions

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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.

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

Tips & Resources for Hiking Ute Valley Park


Map & Driving Directions

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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.

baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes

Tips & Resources for Hiking Santa Fe Regional Trail


Driving Directions

Map to Santa Fe Regional Trailhead

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


Map & Driving Directions to Reynolds Park

Click for Driving Directions