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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Map to Santa Fe Regional Trailhead


snow capped pikes peak in background and orange rock of garden of the gods in foreground

Garden of the Gods Ultimate Hiking Guide

Garden of the Gods is argueabley the best place to hike in Colorado Springs. Designated a National Natural Landmark, the park is known for its towering red sandstone formations and panoramic views of Pikes Peak. Hiking, Horseback riding, mountain biking, birding, and climbing are among the activities that can be enjoyed here. This guide to the Garden of the Gods features 6 different hiking trail options, spanning from easy to moderate and 1/2 mile to 2.5 mile hikes.

We've attempted to create the definitive guide to hiking in Garden of the Gods. In this guide, you'll find: Driving directions to Garden of the Gods, Trail Maps, Photography tips, Camping information for the Garden of the Gods area, and other Resources for planning your Colorado Vacation. This guide to Garden of the Gods is extensive, so we have created a table of contents to help you navigate. Have fun exploring!

Garden of the Gods Hiking Guide Contents

  1. Trail Snapshot
  2. Driving Directions
  3. Hiking Trails
  4. Central Garden Trail
  5. Ridge Trail
  6. Siamese Twins Trail
  7. Palmer Trail
  8. Scotsman & Buckskin Charlie Loops
  9. Balanced Rock Trail
  10. Photography
  11. Hiking with Kids
  12. For Out-of-State Hikers
  13. Things to Do Nearby
  14. History and Geology
  15. Protect Garden of the Gods

Trail Snapshot: Garden of the Gods

Driving Directions to Garden of the Gods

Take interstate I-25 to Colorado Springs. Exit onto West Fillmore Road and head West. Fillmore will change names to Fontmore Road. Take a right onto North 30th Street, and you'll find the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center just 1.2 miles up on the right/east side of the road. We recommend you stop at the Visitor Center to pick up a free color trail map. The main parking area for hiking is located on the North end of the park. You'll find Gateway Road (the access road into Garden of the Gods) directly across from the Visitor Center. Head west on Gateway road, then right at the intersection with Juniper Way Loop Road. The main parking area is located on the left-hand/South side of the first bend of the Juniper Way Loop. There are restroom facilities available at both the main parking area and at the visitor center.

Before you park, consider driving around the entire Juniper Way loop to take in the sites and get your bearings. It's one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado, especially during sunrise and sunset. The loop is one way, has a low speed limit, and is frequented by cyclists. So, it also makes for a great bike ride-- the northbound loop is a gradual but demanding climb. Be attentive to hikers and cyclists as you drive in the park.

6 Hiking Trails at Garden of the Gods

concrete path winding through red rock formations with scrub grasses and juniper trees

Central Garden Trail at Garden of the Gods Steve Walser

Trail Option #1 - The Central Garden Trails

We've put this loop hike first on our list because it takes you right into the heart of the park. It's also paved and wheelchair and stroller accessible. From the parking lot, hikers will head south on the main trail (pictured above). On your right will be the largest of the sandstone Monoliths, North Gateway Rock. The tower on its north end is called the Tower of Babel, and its south end marks the gateway into the famous central valley. But before you enter the valley, be sure to look up at the Kissing Camels formation located at the middle-top of North Gateway Rock.

The loop begins right after you enter through the gateway at the twin spires of Sentinel Rock. Going left will take you on a clockwise circuit around the valley. You'll first pass between the Three Graces and Pulpit Rock before the trail bends to the North. Finally, the trail will bend South and meet back up with the trail that leads back to the main parking lot. There are many other trails that come off of the main loop trail, so bring a map with you if you plan to explore some of the nooks and crannies of the park.

snow covered pikes peak with red sandstone and tree in foreground

View of Pikes Peak from the South End of Garden of the Gods Courtesy of John Kalla


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

Looking for more places to hike with your dog? Explore more Dog-Friendly hikes near Denver by visiting our 25+ Dog Friendly Hikes and our Top 10 Dog Hikes Near Denver.


Trail Option #2 - The Ridge Trail at Garden of the Gods

The Ridge Trail is a short, half-mile loop on the southeastern end of the park. From the parking area indicated in the table above, the trail is located across the street to the left by takign a crosswalk. Before you cross, be aware of cars and cyclists (often the cyclists come around the curves of the park much faster and can take you by surprise). The Ridge trail makes it way to the foot of The Sleeping Giant formation before bending back toward the parking area.

two red rock towers rock formation with pikes peak mountain in background

Siamese Twins Rock Formation - Courtesy of Matt Santamarco

Trail Option #3 - The Siamese Twins Trail

To hike to the Siamese Twins formation, take the trail on the north end of the parking lot that leads North. As you hike, you'll observe a very different landscape to the West, desert terrain that stretches out and up to Rampart Range Road. At the Siamese Twins, be sure to grab a photo of Pikes Peak framed by the window in the rock. Be sure to adjust your camera to take it's light reading from the distant mountain rather than the foreground (on your phone, simply press your screen to readjust the reference point for the lighting and focus). The trail heads South and will pass the parking area as it bends around and back up to it.

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View of Central Garden From Palmer Trail - Courtesy of John Fowler

Trail Option #4 - The Palmer Trail (Chambers/Bretag Loop)

This 2.5 mile loop hike is a great way to take in the full spectrum of terrain and rock formations in the park. The route, as describe below is about 2.5 miles, and mileage may vary depending on the side trails you decide to take. From the main parking area/trailhead, the Palmer Trail can be picked up by crossing Juniper Way directly North of the lot. Heading left/West on the Palmer trail, it will wind around South, roughly following the main road through Garden of the Gods.

To make the loop, at about 1.3 miles on the Palmer Trail hikers will cross Juniper Way at the Scotsman Picnic Area and join up with the Scotsman Trail. It will dips South initally, then heads Northeast to meet up with the trails of the Central Valley. This area can be quite a labyrinth and the best way to pick up the Eastern side of the loop will be to keep an eye out for the gateway, the space between North Gateway and South Gateway Rocks. Once through the gateway, hikers will pick up the Garden Trail, head East, and join up with the Susan G. Bretag Trail, by crossing Juniper Way where it intersects with Gateway Road. Heading North on the Bretage Trail, it will eventually come to a fork. Taking the left-hand/West trail (Palmer Trail) will lead back to the parking lot.

Trail Option #5 - The Scotsman and Buckskin Charlie Loops

These are two loops found just South of the Central Valley area. The parking area is small and will likely be full during most days during the Summer months. One alternative is to begin your hike at the main lot, then pick up the Scotsman trail on the South end of the Valley.

The Scotsman Loop is 1.1 mile in its entirety. Picking up the trail from the Scotsman Picnic ground by following social trails East, the Scotsman dips South then winds Northeast before making a sharp turn South and back to the parking area. Bring your trail map, or have it up on your phone to keep oriented.

The Buckskin Charlie Trail can be added to double your hike. Hikers will pick up the Buckskin Charlie Trail on the southern bends of the Scotsman. The trail winds around until it begins again to head North, following the line of the main road, Juniper way, until it joins back up with the Scotsman and returns home to the Scotsman Picnic area.


above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder


giant red rock balanced on rock fulcrum in garden of the gods

Balanced Rock - Courtesy of Chica-Tika

Trail Option #6 - The Balanced Rock Loop Hike

You don't have to hike to Balanced Rock (see driving directions in the table above). In fact, this loop hike is named "the Balanced Rock Trail" only because it is near Balanced Rock, not because it takes you there. For visitors entering through the South end of the park, Balanced Rock will be the first stop, then on to the Trading Post. In fact, the best way to pick up the Balanced Rock Trail is from the Northern end of the Trading Post lot. Hikers will find a connector trail that goes directly from the lot North, crosses the road, and immediately picks up the Balanced Rock Loop trail. Hiking counter-clockwise, the trail follows alongside Garden road, then leads North until it terminates at another section of the road. Hikers can cross the road (watch for cars and cyclists) and pick up the Cabin Canyon Trail across the street. Taking the Cabin Canyon Trail South, it will come to a crosswalk where you can pick the Balanced Rock Trail up again and back to the parking area.

Photography: Great Photos in Garden of the Gods

  • All year round and any time of the day, Garden of the Gods is already photogenic. However, the best times to take photos are during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset when the rock faces are lit up and cast their shadows across the landscape. Going early in the morning will also help you avoid having people in your photos.
  • Snow adds its white contrast during the Winter months and early Spring. If you want a snowcapped Pikes Peak in the background, you'll likely need to get that shot before mid-June.
  • Wildflowers appear most noticeably in April through July.
  • After heavy rains, standing water can form what look like small ponds (but are really giant puddles). These offer the rare opportunity to capture the reflection of the rock formations on water.
  • One classic vantage point is to take your photo from the North End of the Palmer Trail at Sunset. This will give you one of the best photographs of the Central Valley area.
  • For sunrise, a great place to capture Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background is from the parking area up on Mesa Road that overlooks the park.

Hiking with Kids at Garden of the Gods

  • Hydrate: This goes for adults as well, but is even more important with kiddos. Almost all the trails in Garden of the Gods are exposed to the sun. You're also in a High-Plains Desert environment, so you simply need more water. Then add onto that physical exertion. So, bring water and hydrate.
  • Pack Snacks or Bring a Lunch: Even though the hikes are not long in Garden of the Gods, it always helps to have fuel. Plus, nothing beats finding a great view of Pikes Peak and kicking back to rest and enjoy a picnic.
  • Climbing can result in injury: Having hiked often in Garden of the Gods, I've witnessed people--usually young people--who have climbed up into areas and gotten themselves in a tough spot. Children should know that climbing up into an area is a lot easier than getting down.
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Visiting Garden of the Gods From Out-of-State

  • Download our Hiking Guide for a list of hiking tips, 10 essentials that everyone should pack for their dayhike, and recommended hiking snacks.
  • Free Full-Color Map: Don't get lost. Pick up this freebie at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center information kiosk.
  • Bring Lots of Water: It can be very hot and dry, and there may not be a chance to refill, so bring a full water bottle.
  • Altitude: If you are visiting Colorado from out-of-state, chances ar that it will take you a few days to adjust to teh altitude. The good news about hikes in Garden of the Gods is that they are relatively easy. However, a little exertion at altitude can result in feeling naseauted, winded, and just plain tired. So, don't overdo it if you are not feeling well. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (because it oxygenates your blood), and get good rest.
  • Camping Near Garden of the Gods

    Camping is prohibited in Garden of the Gods, and it's important to understand that the Park is located in the town of Colorado Springs--it's not a backcountry experience. Those looking to camp will need to explore campgrounds and tent camping options outside the immediate area. However, there is a nearby campground in Manitou Springs that offers cabins, bunkhouses, and RV spots. It's pet-friendly and even offers bike rentals. You can find current rates and more at Garden of the Gods RV Resort. Most of the tent camping is going to be out near Rampart Range Reservoir or further West past Woodland Park, CO.

    Things to Do and Places to Eat Near Garden of the Gods

    History and Geology of Colorado’s Garden of the Gods

    Imagine a prehistoric landscape of sand dunes plunged and crushed into the earth by some violent upheaval involving tectonic and hydraulic forces. That's how the red rock fins of Garden of the Gods were formed in the womb of the earth. Then another cataclysm. The Pikes Peak massif gets thrust to the sky along with the surrounding red sedimentary rock. Some at angles and some perpendicular to the land. Then the forces of wind and water began to wear down the loose rock creating the unusual holes and across the surfaces of the rocks. You'll find these types of rock formations stretching from North of Ft. Collins down into Southern Colorado. Some of the most notable are Roxborough State Park and South Valley Park near Littleton and Red Rocks Park in Denver.

    After his death in 1907, the children of railroad tycoon, Charles Elliott Perkins, fulfilled their father's wishes by donating 480 acres of Garden of the Gods to become a permanent park and free to the public. The park has expanded over the years to over 1,300 acres. The park got its name from a German surveyor mapping out the land in 1859.


    baby mountain goat on mount evans colorado more easy hikes


    How You Can Protect the Garden of the Gods Area

    • Stay the Trail: The sandstone in the parks is easily eroded, and because this area sees a lot of visitors the impacts of individuals quickly adds up. So keep on established trails during your hikes.
    • Keep Dogs on a 6' Leash: And be sure to bring bags for picking up after your pet.
    • Pack Out All Trash: It should go without saying but be sure to pick up after yourself. In the last few years it seems that litter along trails in Colorado has grown to be a real problem. Do your part to keep the park and our State beautiful. One of our family hiking habits is to pick up trash as we hike.
    • Climbing and Bouldering: Climbing and Bouldering in Garden of the Gods require both the proper equipment and permits. You can pick up permits at the Visitor Center or online at the City of Colorado Springs climbing permit page.
    • Thanks goes out to Joel Tonyan for his great photo of Garden of the Gods and snow-dusted foothills.
    • Care for the Rock: This should also go without saying, but don't carve or deface the rock in any way.
    • Let them sit and grow: Removing rocks, plants, or animals is prohibited.
    • Mountain Biking: Mountain biking is limited to designated trails.

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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


undine falls near colorado springs header

Undine Falls Hike Near Colorado Springs

Undine Falls near Colorado Springs is reached via the Seven Bridges Trail in North Cheyenne Canyon. This is a day-use only and family-friendly trail through a canyon to a beautiful slide waterfall. Explore the full Undine 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: Undine Falls Hike

Parking & Trailhead Information for Undine Falls - 7 Bridges Trail

The Upper Gold Camp Road Parking area can be reached from Denver by following I-25 South to Colorado Springs, exiting South onto Tejon Street. After about 0.3 of a mile, bear right onto Cheyenne Boulevard. At the fork, bear right onto North Cheyenne Canyon Road. The road will twist and turn through the canyon. After passing the Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center, the Upper Gold Camp parking area is located about 1/2 mile further up the road and on the left. There are no amenities at this parking area. The trail begins at the gate located on the Northwestern end of the parking lot.

map of undine falls

The Hike: Undine Falls Hike

Click to Download the PDF Map

A closed gate near the Gold Camp Road Trailhead on the northwest area of the parking lot marks the beginning of the Undine Falls Trail. This first segment of the hike follows an old dirt road for about 0.7 mile where a trail crosses North Cheyenne creek, taking hikers to the official Seven Bridges Trailhead. This is clearly marked with signage that will point out different hiking options. Aptly named, the trail begins by crossing bridge #1, taking hikers into a beautiful riparian ecosystem full of cascades and aspens. The trail goes in and out of the shade, until it arrives at the seventh bridge. Here, hikers should look for the sign for Trail #622 which, after a short ascent, leads to the best viewpoint to take in the sight and sounds of Undine Falls.

Undine falls is a slab waterfall cascading through a pinch in North Cheyenne Canyon. The best time of the year to view the falls in in the Spring and early Summer seasons when the meltwater is flowing at its best.

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking Undine Falls Hike - 7 Bridges Trail

  • TIP: Hydrate: Bring plenty of water. Though this hike is partly shaded, it can get hot in the canyon.
  • TIP: Beware of poison ivy: the 7 bridges stretch of trail is also famous for this itchy species.
  • Trail Map: Undine Falls Trail
  • 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 Robin Wilson for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Undine Falls.
  • After the Hike: Urban Steam Coffee Bar and Cafe

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seven-falls-hike-colorado-springs

Seven Falls Hike in Colorado Springs

The hike to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs follows a paved canyon trail 0.8 mile to this famous tiered waterfall. After severe damage by the floods in 2013, the Broadmoor Resort purchased the property and has made significant improvements, including trail and site repairs, as well as creating an on-site restaurant. As in the past, there is an access fee to this Colorado Springs attraction. Explore the full Seven Falls hike profile for 4 different hike options, driving directions, trail map, and tips for making the most of your trip to Seven Falls.

Trail Snapshot: Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Seven Falls

Since purchased by the Broadmoor, the hike to Seven Falls begins at the east parking area at 6 Lake Street in Colorado Springs. Visitors then take the free shuttle to the Seven Falls entrance. From here, it's a 0.8 mile (one-way) hike through the canyon up to Seven Falls. Visitors have the option of taking a $1 tram service to the base of the falls; however, the tram is prioritized for those who are have physical limitations that may prevent them from making the journey up to the falls and back. So, on busy days, availability may be limited.

Driving Directions for Seven Falls:

Take I-25 to exit 140 for Nevada Avenue. Go right/south onto Nevada Avenue, take a right to go west on Lake Street. Turn right/north onto 1st street. The parking area will be on the right.

Fee:

While parking itself is free of charge for patrons, there is a fee required to visit Seven Falls. At the time of this posting, the fee for visiting Seven Falls is $14 for adults and $8 for children. For the most up-to-date prices and hours, contact the Seven Falls Office at 1-855-923-7272.

The Hike: Seven Falls Trail in Colorado Springs

There are 4 Different hike options for visitors to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs.

#1 - Initial hike from the ticket area to the base of Seven Falls

Visitors to Seven Falls can walk the 0.8 mile paved trail from the entrance to the base of the falls. The paved, private road winds through South Cheyenne Canyon and under the shadows cast by the Pillars of Hercules, a set of twin rock towers that soar nearly 1000 feet above the floor of the canyon.

At the base of the the waterfall, you can choose to take the staircase of 224 steps that provide both an opportunity to view the unique segments of this tiered waterfall and give visitors access to the 3 hikes above Seven Falls. At the falls, visitors can also take an elevator to an observation point.

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#2 - Midnight Falls Loop Hike

After climbing the steps to the area above Seven Falls, a short 0.35 mile trail leads south along Cripple Creek to another small waterfall, Midnight Falls. Round trip, this hike takes approximately 30 minutes and is a total distance out-and-back of 0.7 mile.

#3 - Inspiration Point Out-and-Back Hike

Once above the Falls, visitors will follow the Midnight Falls Trail until its first intersection with the Inspiration Point Trail. Taking a left onto the Inspiration Point Trail, it will lead east, then north to the Helen Hunt Jackson Memorial and to the Inspiration Point observation area. Here, hikers can take in views of the Great Plains as they stretch out to the East and of views of the city of Colorado Springs below. The hike to Inspiration Point is about 1.5 mile round-trip, and takes approximately one hour to complete from the top of the falls.

#4 - Stage Road Loop Hike

A longer loop hike that visits both Inspiration Point and Midnight Falls can be created by following the route above to Inspiration Point. After visiting Inspiration Point, hikers would continue south then east on the Sunrise trail, which intersects with the Old Stage Road at approximately 1 mile into the hike.

Going right on the Old Stage road, it will wind south, then will make its way west to where it will intersect with the Inspiration Point Trail (on the right/north side of the road). The Old Stage Road segment is approximately 1 mile.

The Inspiration Point trail will lead North back towards Seven Falls. After about 1/2 a mile on on the Inspiration Point Trail, hikers will see the short spur trail on the left that leads to Midnight Falls. After visiting Midnight falls, this loop hike can be completed by following the Midnight Falls trail back to the steps above Seven Falls. The total distance for this loop hike ends up being approximately 3 miles. Because Seven Falls has posted closing times, hikers should budget enough time for this longer hike so that they are able to make it back for the last shuttle to the parking area.

Tips & Resources for Hiking to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Expect Crowds in Summer and on Weekends: Because Seven Falls is a popular tourist destination, it can become quite crowded on weekends and during the vacation season of Mid-May through Labor Day Weekend.
  • Operating Hours Vary: The open and close times, as well as shuttle service, varies during different seasons. Inclement weather can also close Seven Falls, so be sure to call ahead for hours 1-855-923-7272.
  • Trail Map for Seven Falls in Colorado Springs: 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 Caynes for sharing the above photograph of Seven Falls in Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: Restaurant 1858 at Seven Falls: The lunch menu is more than what you might pay at a similar place in town, but quality of food and beautiful location make it worth it. Dinner menu is more expensive. No dogs, except service animals, allowed at the restaurant.

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waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


cascades over rock at catmount falls hike near colorado springs

Catamount Falls Hike Near Colorado Springs

The hike to Catamount Falls is a moderate 2.8 mile loop hike about 25 minutes outside of Colorado Springs. This waterfall hike takes hikers to three different waterfalls and over two different creeks that spill down from the heights of Pikes Peak. It makes for a great weekend adventure, coupled with a great opportunity for brunch at the Pantry in Green Mountain Falls. Explore the full Catamount Falls hike profile below for driving directions, trail route description, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure near Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs

Parking & Trailhead Information for Catamount Falls

The hike to Catamount Falls starts at Thomas Trailhead in the quaint mountain village of Green Mountain Falls. However, since there is no parking available at the Thomas trailhead, the hike must be started from the Gazebo Lake parking area in town. To get to Gazebo Lake, from interstate 25, take exit 141 and go west on Cimarron Avenue/US 24 for 13.5 miles to the Chipita Park/Green Mountain Falls exit. Following Green Mountain Falls Rd/Ute Pass Avenue for approximately 0.7 miles. Take a left onto Lake Street. Here you will find the parking area that lines the north side of the small lake.

The Hike: Catamount Falls Trail in Colorado Springs

The loop route below requires two segments along the streets of Green Mountain Falls. The first 0.4 mile segment of the hike will takes hikers from Gazebo Lake to the Thomas Trailhead. Beginning at Gazebo Lake, walk the roadside of Ute Pass Avenue that follows the southern edge of Gazebo Lake. Take a right at the first intersection onto Hotel Street. The streets can be a bit confusing in Green Mountain falls, and Hotel Street will soon turn into Park Avenue. Follow Park avenue as it winds up to its intersection with Boulder Street, a dirt (and sometimes muddy) road that terminates at the Thomas Trailhead.

Once on the Thomas Trail, yellow circle blazes mark the way. The initial stretch of trail leads to the base of the first waterfall on this hike, Crystal Falls @ 0.5 mile. This set of cascades is formed by Crystal Creek as it runs down the mountainside from a Crystal Creek Reservoir, one of the lakes situated above Green Mountain Falls on the flanks of Pikes Peak. A bit further up the trail, there is an observation area for taking in the larger leaps of the falls.

The next 0.7 mile segment of the Thomas Trail leads to the second waterfall, Catamount Falls, and is the more demanding portion of the hike. The trail climbs west/northwest until it arrives at Thomas Trail Memorial. After the memorial, Catamount Falls is just a short ways further up the trail. A spur trail leads from the left/south to the site of Catamount falls.

From Catamount Falls, the next segment of trail goes north to take hikers back into Green Mountain Falls. Yellow blazes mark the way across the creek and back to the Thomas Trail. Soon the trail will encounter an intersection with the Catamount trail at the Catamount Trailhead. Staying on the Thomas Trail, it will cross a small footbridge where a third small waterfall can be viewed. The trail then terminates at Belvedere Avenue.

Here, the final 1-mile segment of this loop hike begins. Taking a right onto paved Belvedere Avenue, it will lead east, back into town. Belvedere Avenue will eventually merge with Ute Pass Avenue. Going South/Right on Ute Pass Avenue then leads back to Gazebo Park.

You may be wondering, "What is a 'catamount?'" A catamount is a mountain lion, also known as a cougar. The Catamount Reservoir and Catamount Creek are both named after this creature that lives in the wilds of Colorado.


waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Looking for more waterfalls near Denver? Explore our more than 50 Colorado Waterfall Hikes, our favorite Waterfall Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, or 7 Waterfalls within One Hour of Denver.


Tips & Resources for Hiking to Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs

  • Watch for yellow markers: These will guide you along the Thomas Trail.
  • Get there early: This can be a crowded hike on the weekends.
  • Parking: Out of respect for the residents of Green Mountain Falls, refrain from parking along the roads near the trailhead. Instead, park at Gazebo Lake and follow the trail description above.
  • A Shorter Option: For those looking for a less demanding hike to just one waterfall, follow the route above to take in Crystal Falls only. This makes for a less demanding 1 mile, out-and-back hike.
  • 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 Ethan Beute for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Catamount Falls in Colorado Springs.
  • After the Hike: The Pantry Restaurant: One of our favorite breakfast places in all of Colorado

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


helen hunt falls waterfall pouring over granite rock face with bridge in background along hike near colorado springs

Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs

Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs is a 35 foot waterfall requiring only a short walk from the parking area. For a longer and more demanding hike, visitors can take the 4 mile Columbine Trail from the bottom of Cheyenne Canyon to Helen Hunt Falls. This strenuous option affords and experience of the rich ecosystem of this canyon at the base of Pikes Peak. Explore the full Helen Hunt Falls hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and many of the details you need to enjoy this waterfall in Colorado Springs.

Trail Snapshot: Helen Hunt Falls

Parking & Trailhead Information for Helen Hunt Falls

Helen Hunt Falls is located in the upper reaches of North Cheyenne Canyon in Colorado Springs. The driving directions and map in the trail snapshot (above) direct hikers to the small parking area nearest to the waterfall. However, this lot is often full, so visitors will need to drive further up into the canyon to additional parking. The Helen Hunt Falls area is a trailhead to several hikes in the canyon, so the parking areas do fill quickly on weekends and during the busy vacation season. Go early to park close. In case you or a friend are unable to make the short hike to the falls, they are visible along the road from your vehicle. Drive with care through the canyon as there are many cyclists on this stretch of road.

The longer hike begins near the Strasmore Visitor Center at the entrance to Cheyenne Canyon. Click for Driving Directions.

The Hike: Helen Hunt Falls

Helen Hunt Falls is a 35 foot waterfall that cascades over the rock in North Cheyenne Creek. The falls are most beautiful when Cheyenne Canyon's water volume is at it's peak in the late Spring to early Summer, or after a good rain. It's not much of a hike to Helen Hunt Falls because the base of the falls can be accessed just a few steps from the Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center. The visitor center is open only in the Summer and has snacks and gifts for sale. The waterfall access is open year-round and there is no fee.

In the winter, the frozen falls have a beauty of their own, but be advised that the trails can be very slick and icy.

There is short, but more strenuous trail just after the bridge and to the left. The trail has a set of stairs built into the side of the canyon that lead to an overlook and another perspective on the waterfall.

If you prefer a longer, creekside hike to the Falls, then park at the Strasmore Visitor Center at the entrance to the Canyon. Near the visitor center, you can locate the Lower Columbine Trailhead. This creekside trail weaves through Cheyenne Canyon all the way up to Helen Hunt Falls. It's 4 miles one-way to the Upper Columbine Trailhead near the falls, and about 1000+ feet of elevation gain. Because the trail follows the creek and over a lot of rocky surface, be prepared for slick surfaces, and be sure to wear a solid pair of hiking boots. Trekking poles will be exceptionally helpful on this stretch of trail. About midway up the Columbine Trail, it abandons the creek, crosses the road, and begins a significant climb that includes a set of demanding switchbacks. Eventually, the trail nears Tunnel #2 along Gold Camp Road, then terminates at the Helen Hunt Falls area.

Helen Hunt Falls is named for reformer, activist, and writer, Helen Hunt Jackson, who fought for Native American Rights in the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

waterfall in canyon with bridge in foreground fish creek falls waterfall in colorado

Tips & Resources for Hiking Helen Hunt Falls

  • Explore More: Hike further to Silver Cascade Falls to take in a second waterfall. It's less than 1/2 mile from Helen Hunt Falls with an elevation gain of approximately 250 feet.
  • Pack a Picnic Lunch: Helen Hunt Falls and Cheyenne Creek are great places to enjoy a picnic lunch.
  • Bear and Mtn Lion Activity: Like many areas along the Front Range of Colorado, Bear and Mtn. Lions live in Cheyenne Canyon and the surrounding countryside. Dispose of food in the proper containers. Be alert. And keep together as a group. It's best that children don't run ahead, but stay with your group. Dogs should be leashed at all times.
  • Trail Map for North Cheyenne Canyon: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Urban Steam Coffee
  • Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Mike Sinko for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike.

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Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

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