We can still enjoy the outdoors under the current Colorado guidelines to deal with Covid-19! Hiking is a great way to practice social distancing while enjoying some fresh air, but when the trail you’re on becomes too crowded, it defeats the purpose. Here a few lesser-traveled trails to try while keeping your distance.
1 – Catamount Falls: This hike starts with a hike TO the trail! Exit HWY-24 and head into Green Mountain Falls. You can park on the side of the main road in town near the post office. There’s no parking at the trailhead or on the road to it. Walk up Hondo Road about 3/4 of a mile. From there, you’ll reach the trailhead. Follow the markers for Catamount Falls. You’ll find plenty of scenic views and waterfalls, but it is challenging to moderate. If you make it to the “Garden of Eden” section at the top, you can enjoy a flat hike along a creek. Follow that to the right, and you can continue your hike up to the Catamount Reservoirs if you choose. Bring spikes if hiking in the winter and spring.
2 – Section 16: This is a trail system in W Colorado Springs that you can connect to one of two ways. Either hike to the back of Red Rock Canyon Open Space or park on Lower Gold Camp Road and bypass the extra miles. It’s moderate on the way up, but once you pass the challenging uphill, it is literally all downhill from there. You’ll see a few people, but it isn’t as crowded as many other trails. You’ll have great views on the way up! There will be some icy sections in the winter and spring, be prepared.
3 – Mt. Herman: These trails can be reached by heading W from Monument. Connect up to Mt. Herman Road and drive up the mountain. It is a dirt road, be aware! It is a moderate hike if you choose to hike up to the top but offers excellent views of Monument and N Colorado Spring. Bring spikes if you are hiking in the winter and spring.
4 – Pancake Rocks/Horsethief Falls: This a fantastic trail to do in the snowy season if you don’t want to run into anyone! Drive-up HWY-24 to Divide. At HWY-67, you’ll make a left and continue for about 9 miles. You’ll notice an area to pull off near a tunnel in the rocks. Park here, the trailhead is right next to it. If you hit Cripple Creek, you have passed it. Bring snowshoes or spikes depending on the amount of snow that has fallen and how recently. The hike to the top is moderate but offers great views! If that’s too far, you can branch-off to Horsethief Falls. The hike to the falls is relatively flat from the fork.
5 – N Cheyenne Canyon, Mt. Muscoco: Head up N Cheyenne Canyon in W Colorado Springs. You’ll notice the parking for this trailhead on the left. It has a sign and a clear marker. Follow the trail up for about a mile and branch off to the right when you have the opportunity. This section of the trail leads to Mt. Muscoco and is significantly less trafficked than the branch to the left. Bring spikes if you are hiking in the winter and spring.
6 – Palmer Park, the outer loops: Palmer Park is very popular, and the parking is often packed! However, you can find many peaceful trails there as long as you stay off the main loops at the top. Take any trails that loop around the park, and you’ll run into very few hikers. Go explore!
7 – Iron Mountain: This trail is in Manitou Springs and a good one if you’re looking for a short hike! Connect up to it by taking Crystal Park Road. From there, it is a moderate incline to the top but overall a short hike, keeping it on the easier side.
8 – Mays Peak: This is another trail in N Cheyenne Canyon. Drive to the top and park in the large gravel lot. The trailhead is on the east side of the lot; it is not the same as the entrance to the Seven Bridges trail… but if you wind up there, you won’t be disappointed, it is just a bit more crowded! It’s a fairly easy trail. There will be icy areas in the winter and spring.
9 – Blodgett Peak: If you’re up for a challenge, this is a good one for you! Blodgett Open Space on the NW side of the Springs is less trafficked than many of the other open spaces on the SW side of town… so if the peak is a bit much for you, this is still a good option. There are plenty of trails to choose from. If you’re up for the peak, follow the trail at the start of the open space and generally keep left. From there, you’ll be able to connect up to the trail that leads to the top. It is very steep with loose gravel in areas. Be prepared for a very challenging hike! There will be icy areas in the winter and spring.
10 – Old Monarch Pass: This is a great trail if you want to give snowshoeing a try! You must have snowshoes for this hike. It is located just past the Monarch Ski area. You can’t miss it. You’ll see a few other snowshoers, cross country skiers and snowmobiles but it isn’t crowded, and it’s very easy to follow. Enjoy the great views with easy to moderate incline of the trail.