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27 trails you should explore in Colorado

Devil’s Head Lookout

Trip log: 3 miles round trip (out and back), 939-foot total elevation gain, 9,748 feet max (top of tower)

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Off Interstate 25 north, exit for Tomah Road. Continue west before turning right onto Perry Park Road. After 5 miles, turn left onto Jackson Creek Road. Follow for 7 miles, then turn right onto Forest Road 507. In 4½ miles, turn right onto Rampart Range Road, continuing south, following signs to parking lot.

FYI: Dogs on leash. No bikes. Horses allowed but not recommended. Rampart Range Road closed for the winter usually starting Dec. 1.

Learn more here

Manitou Incline

Trip log: 3.58 miles round trip (.88 miles to top of Incline, 2.7 down Barr), 2,307-foot total elevation gain, 8,544 feet max.

Difficulty: Very difficult.

Getting there: The trailhead is across the street from the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, above the station’s parking lot near the end of Ruxton Avenue. Heading west, Manitou Avenue enters downtown Manitou Springs, and Ruxton starts to the left of the traffic circle.

FYI: Park at Manitou’s free lot at Hiawatha Gardens, 10 Old Man’s Trail. Free shuttle there to trailhead. Returning down steps can be dangerous; take Barr Trail and don’t cut switchbacks. Icy in winter.

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Pancake Rocks

Trip log: 3.51 miles round trip (out and back); 1,207-foot total elevation gain, 11,009 max elevation

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Off U.S. 24, at the traffic light in Divide, turn south onto Colorado 67. After about 9 miles, look left for the paved parking lot by the old tunnel.

FYI: Dogs on leash. Open to bikes and horses.

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Lake of Glass, Rocky Mountain National Park

Trip log: 8.2 miles round trip (out and back), 1,822-foot elevation gain, 10,808 feet max

Difficulty: Difficult

Getting there: From the Beaver Meadows entrance on U.S. 36, head west before turning on Bear Lake Road toward Moraine Park. The Glacier Gorge trailhead is about 9 miles away, and the Bear Lake trailhead is farther.

FYI: $20 day pass per vehicle. Check road conditions: bit.ly/1rpGrTR. If both lots fill during peak season, take the shuttle near the Bierstadt trailhead. No dogs

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The Crags

Trip log: 5.43 miles round trip (out and back), 888-foot total elevation gain, 10,824 feet max

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Getting there: From Colorado Springs, head west on U.S. 24 and take a left at the stoplight in Divide for Colorado 67 south. After passing the Mueller State Park entrance, look left to the wooden post pointing to the Crags. Proceed on the dirt Forest Road 383 past the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp and come to the big parking lot.

FYI: Check the Forest Service web page for the trail (http://bit.ly/2zlUsKp) to make sure it’s open. High-clearance, four-wheel drive not necessary but recommended, especially with muddy conditions. Icy in winter. Dogs allowed on leash. Camping only at Crags Campground.

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The Challenge Hill, Castle Rock

Trip log: 0.10 miles up the hill, 0.4-mile trail down, 168-foot elevation gain, 6,509 feet max

Difficulty: Difficult

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Plum Creek Parkway and turn left. The park is on the left side of the road.

FYI: No dogs on Challenge Hill.

Hogback Valley/Lion Trail, Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Trip log: 3.46 miles round trip (loop), 883-foot total elevation gain, 6,921 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: The Red Rock Canyon Open Space parking lot is off U.S. 24, across from Ridge Road.

FYI: Dogs on leash unless in designated off-leash area. Trails good for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Lock car doors and don’t leave valuables behind.

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Quandary Peak, east ridge route

Trip log: 6.7 miles round trip (out and back), 3,450-foot elevation gain, 14,265 feet max

Difficulty: Extreme

Getting there: Off U.S. 24 west, turn north on Colorado 9 and follow through Alma, down Hoosier Pass before turning left on Blue Lakes Road, then right on McCullough Gulch Road to the trailhead. If the parking lot is full, find a spot nearby along the road or in the overflow lot off Blue Lakes Road.

FYI: The basic rules of fourteener climbing apply: boots, proper clothing, water and food supply. Avoid in winter due to avalanche risks. Go to 14ers.com for more information and recent trip reports.

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Castle Trail, Mount Falcon Park

Trip log: 6.14 miles round trip (out and back), 1,535-foot elevation gain, 7,664 feet max

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Getting there: Going north on Interstate 25, exit for Colorado 470 west. Continue for about 21 miles before exiting for U.S. 285 south. Soon exit for Colorado 8 toward Morrison. Turn left on Forest Avenue, then right on Vine Street to the park.

FYI: If lot is full, find spot on Vine Street. Multi-use, nonmotorized trails. Dogs on leash. Don’t cut switchbacks.

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Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Trip log: 2.2 miles, 329-foot elevation gain, 6,672 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Go east on U.S. 24 through Calhan, turning right on Yoder Street/Calhan Highway, then left on Paint Mines Road to the parking lot.

FYI: Park hours dawn to dusk. No fee. No dogs, horses, bikes or off-road vehicles. To avoid damaging the formations, do not climb.

Spruce Mountain loop

Trip log: 5.6 miles round trip (“lollipop” loop), 657-foot elevation gain, 7,631 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Going north on I-25, exit for County Line Road. Go left over the bridge and drive 2.6 miles, turning right onto Spruce Mountain Road after the railroad tracks. The open space parking lot will be on the left in 3.5 miles.

FYI: Multi-use, nonmotorized trail. Dogs on leash.

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Iron Mountain, Manitou Springs

Trip log: 2 miles round trip (out and back), 938-foot elevation gain, 7,136 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: For the Intemann trailhead off Ruxton Avenue, follow the street to the left of the traffic circle in downtown Manitou. Cross the bridge for Spring Street and follow the dirt path up.

FYI: Park at the free lot at Hiawatha Gardens, 10 Old Man’s Trail. Hiking and mountain biking. Dogs on leash.

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Raccoon Trail, Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Trip log: 3.7 miles round trip (“lollipop” loop), 491-foot elevation gain, 9,372 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: From Golden, drive 13 miles on Golden Gate Canyon Road. From the park’s visitor center, follow Colorado 46 west to Colorado 119 north. Off the highway, turn right onto Gap Road and continue to Reverend’s Ridge Campground.

FYI: $7 day pass per vehicle. Multi-use trail. Dogs on leash. Could be icy in winter; use traction

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Heizer Trail

Trip log: 6.76 miles round trip (out and back from “T”), 1,949-foot total elevation gain, 8,790 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Getting there: Off U.S. 24 west, turn left at the light for Pikes Peak Highway and quickly left onto Emporia Avenue, following into Cascade. Park on the side of the road by the park and see the sign for the trail up Park Street.

FYI: Hiking and biking. Dogs on leash. Trail could be icy in winter; use traction.

Learn more here

Talon Trail, Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Trip log: 7 miles round trip (lollipop), 837-foot total elevation gain, 6,857 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: The park’s entrance is off Colorado 115, directly across from the entrance to Fort Carson. Past the pay kiosk, the Limekiln parking lot will be to your left.

FYI: Entrance fee is $7 a vehicle. Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Leashed dogs allowed on select trails, not on Talon Trail. Campground open year-round, first-come, first-served in winter. Trails could be icy in winter.

Learn more here

Homestead loop, Mueller State Park

Trip log: 2.8 miles round trip (loop), 497-foot elevation gain, 9,718 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Off U.S. 24, go south on Colorado 67 to the park. Continue straight on the entrance road, past the visitor center, and park at the Homestead trailhead.

FYI: $7 day pass per vehicle. Multi-use trails. No dogs.

Learn more here

Willow Lake in Sangre de Cristo Wilderness

Trip log: 6.2 miles round trip to basin (out and back), 2,732-foot total elevation gain, 11,556 feet max

Difficulty: Difficult

Getting there: Off Colorado 115 south, merge onto U.S. 50 west and continue for 71 miles. Take U.S. 285 south for 26 miles before turning left onto Colorado 17, following to Crestone. At the second stop sign on Crestone Road, turn right onto Galena, which becomes a rough road (two-wheel drive OK) that rises to the trailhead parking lot.

FYI: Start early, wear proper clothing (rain jacket, boots, etc.), bring plenty of water and snacks. Dogs allowed. If camping, leave no trace.

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Seven Bridges

Trip log: 4.5 miles round trip (out and back), 1,179-foot total elevation gain, 8,708 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Tejon Street going south. Take a slight right onto Cheyenne Boulevard and keep right on Cheyenne Canyon Road to the park entrance. Drive up the road about 3 miles, taking the switchback above Helen Hunt Falls to the gravel parking lot.

FYI: Hiking and mountain biking. Dogs on leash. Trail could be icy in winter; use traction.

Learn more here

Goose Creek Trail to Shaft House, Lost Creek Wilderness

Trip log: 8 miles round trip (out and back), 1,100-foot total elevation gain, 9,500 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Going west on U.S. 24, continue through Florissant and Lake George. Turn right onto County Road 77. After about 7 miles, turn right onto Matukat Road, which becomes Forest Road 211. Follow 11½ miles to the trail’s parking lot.

FYI: High-clearance vehicle/four-wheel drive recommended but not required. Hiking and horse riding only in wilderness areas. Dogs on leash. Trails could be icy in winter.

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Mays Peak

Trip log: 3.3 miles round trip (out and back), 760-foot elevation gain, 8,284 feet max

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Getting there: From North Cheyenne Cañon’s main entrance, drive to the “hub” parking lot above Helen Hunt Falls. High Drive is at the left side of the ‘Y’ where Lower Gold Camp Road dips to the right.

FYI: Multi-use, nonmotorized trail. Dogs on leash.

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Templeton Trail, Palmer Park

Trip log: 4.25 miles round trip (loop), 335-foot total elevation gain, 6,575 feet max

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Getting there: Follow through the park entrance on Maizeland Road to the ‘Y’ for Lazy Land. Hang left of the ‘Y’, ending at the Yucca Flats parking lot.

FYI: Multi-use trail. Dogs on leash. Trail could be icy in winter; use traction.

Learn more here

Garden of the Gods trail

Trip log: 3.85 miles round trip (loop), 367-foot total elevation gain, 6,555 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: The main parking lot is reached by taking the road into the park off 30th Street, where the visitors center is.

FYI: See trail maps for sections where bikes and horses are allowed. Dogs on leash, except in designated unleashed area. Trails could be icy in winter.

Learn more here

Buckhorn Loop

Trip log: 3.87 miles round trip (loop), 900-foot total elevation gain, 8,228 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Tejon Street going south. Take slight right onto Cheyenne Boulevard and keep right on Cheyenne Canyon Road to the park entrance. Drive up the road, taking the switchback above Helen Hunt Falls to the parking “hub.”

FYI: Dogs on leash. Trails could be icy in winter.

Learn more here

Lost Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness

Trip log: 4.52 miles round trip (out and back), 791-foot total elevation gain, 9,790 feet max

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Getting there: From Colorado 72 in Nederland, turn west onto Eldora Road (see the sign for Eldora Mountain Resort). The road into Eldora becomes dirt and leads to a fork. Take Hessie Road to the left, leading to the trail.

FYI: Hiking and horseback only in wilderness areas. Use traction in winter. Dogs allowed. Fishing at lake. Eight camping spots at lake are first come, first served.

Learn more here

Blodgett Peak

Trip log: 7.8 miles round trip (out and back), 2,608-foot elevation gain, 9,414 max

Difficulty: Challenging

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Woodmen Road. Head west on East Woodmen Road and turn right onto West Woodmen Road. Follow to the open space parking lot on the left.

FYI: Dogs on leash. Bikes elsewhere in the open space. Watch for weather, attempt in daylight.

Royal Arch, Boulder

Trip log: 3.5 miles round trip (out and back), 1,220-foot total elevation gain, 6,920 feet max

Difficulty: Difficult

Getting there: From Colorado Springs, go north on Interstate 25 and catch U.S. 36 west toward Boulder. Exit for Baseline Road and turn left on the road, proceeding 1.4 miles to Chautauqua Park.

FYI: Dogs on leash. Hikers only.

Learn more here

Red Rocks, Woodland Park

Trip log: 3 miles (“lollipop” loop), 790-foot total elevation gain, 8,422 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: From Colorado Springs, head west on U.S. 24 through Woodland Park, turning north on Colorado 67 toward Deckers. The parking lot for the campground is to the right in 4 miles.

FYI: Multi-use trails. Dogs on leash.

Learn more here

Originally posted at The Colorado Springs Gazette by Seth Boster.
Image copyright The Colorado Springs Gazette.