Don't Skip The Springs: 3 Day Hikes You Can't Miss
For many, Denver is the crown jewel of Colorado. Famously situated in the Rocky Mountains, the Mile High City pulls in visitors from around the country for its year-round ski lodges, stunning views, and myriad of outdoor activities. However, some of the best hiking trails to be found happen just outside of the city limits.
You’ve probably heard of Colorado Springs if you’re a military brat like me. The city is home to five military bases, one of three Olympic Training Centers, and half a million people. Located just a one-hour drive directly south of Denver along Interstate 25, Colorado Springs is easy to access for a day hike that you won’t forget.
It’s important to know that Colorado Springs is located at the base of Pikes Peak. Most of the hiking happens in the foothills of this iconic fourteener (a Colorado peak above 14,000 feet elevation). Pikes Peak is the most visited summit in North America, probably because there’s so many ways to access it: by foot or bicycle on a trail, by cog railway, or by car. Plus, there’s a famous donut shop on top!
It’s also nicknamed “America’s Mountain” as it was the inspiration behind the patriotic song “America the Beautiful.”
Colorado Springs is located just an hour drive south of Denver and is the home of Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain.” Don’t skip the Springs if you love an unforgettable, picturesque day hike.
Manitou Incline – Grab your friends and go!
In Colorado Springs, “the incline” is a household name. It’s an iconic hike up one mile of old railroad tracks and the busiest trail in town. Beware, it’s highly difficult and many call it mother nature’s stairmaster. Think: high altitude, low oxygen! It can take an hour or more, even if you exercise regularly. But the view at the top is worth it, especially at sunrise. Plus, there’s an option to escape the steep steps halfway and walk down a different, gentle trail of switchbacks.
Want a challenge?
What’s special about the incline is not only it’s historical value, but the chance to continue up Barr Trail and summit Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s 58 fourteeners (a peak above 14,000 feet elevation). You can ride North America’s highest railway back down.
North Cheyenne Cañon – Perfect for solo hikes and dates
The drive through North Cheyenne Cañon has so many pull offs, you could essentially park at any of them and access a great hike. It’s okay to explore and get lost in North Cheyenne Canon because all the trails interconnect and signage is clear enough so that you can easily return to your vehicle or just follow the single main road back to your vehicle. My top suggestions:
•Mt. Muscoco Trail: a trail with a balance of open and shaded spaces, plus a 360-degree lookout
•St. Mary’s Falls: a longer and serene trail along a creek
until you reach the waterfalls
•Columbine Trail: a wide and easy trail that follows the
main road, but watch out for cyclists
Want a challenge?
Rent a mountain bike and try the same trails!
Pulpit Rock – For the city folks
Not interested in immersing yourself in the wilderness? Pulpit Rock is a hidden gem situated next to Interstate 25. It appears inaccessible from afar, but there’s a short, easy hike with city and mountain views at the top. It’s best to hike this while the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains.
Want a challenge?
Pulpit Rock is only 2 miles roundtrip and there’s 500 acres of countless trails surrounding it. Add some mileage to your running shoes before the hike!