Autumn is finally arriving in Colorado. The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and hiking in the great outdoors offers a picturesque view of it all. And while trails close to Denver can be congested, Colorado Springs is home to its own autumnal trails and parks — and you might have better luck finding an escape from the hustle and bustle of Colorado’s capital city. All levels are welcome to a change of scenery in the Springs, whether you’re an experienced or casual hiker.
Garden of the Gods
Where: 1805 N. 30th Street Colorado Springs, CO 80904
When: Park Hours: 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., Visitor & Nature Center: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Lowdown: Garden of the Gods is easily the most infamous recreational park in Colorado Springs. With its towering terracotta arches and sandy trails, it’s the perfect spot for a morning jog or afternoon walk. These awe-inspiring rock formations date back to the Pleistocene Ice Age and contain the ancient sea remains of mountain ranges and sandy beaches. For the adventurous hikers seeking a challenge, the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer trail is perfect. This trail runs for three miles, circling the entire park and weaving through rolling hills and rocks. Fewer visitors choose this route, so you can expect to see every perspective of Garden of the Gods with more privacy. The Park also boasts its legendary Balanced Rock. Located near the southern entrance of the park, the giant sandstone boulder offers a perfect picture spot for visitors. The Kissing Camels formation near the front of the park also makes a beautiful snapshot. The park is full of informational events and adventurous activities. From rock climbing to dinosaur exhibits, the Garden of the Gods Park and Visitor Center has something for everyone.
The Old North End
Where: The Old North End neighborhood
The Lowdown: The Old North End is a suburban neighborhood near the Colorado College campus. Rather than immersing yourself in nature, this leisurely stroll offers views or historic architecture and quirky, Victorian-era homes in a neighborhood filled with a rich history, dating back to 1872. Today, the neighborhood hosts many community events, including Christmas with The Old North End where Santa Claus makes an appearance. Whether to interact with the Colorado Springs community or endeavor on a scenic walk, The Old North End is the perfect place for those who want to get outside without completely delving into the great outdoors.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Where: 410 JL Ranch Heights Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80926
When: 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The Lowdown: Cheyenne Mountain State Park is ideal for hiking, biking and sightseeing. With 28 miles of trails, the park has endless opportunities to explore. But for those with some hiking experience, Talon and Sundance trail is a great choice. This serene trail is just under 7 miles long and is a popular trail for hiking, birding and mountain biking. However, any furry friends will have to stay behind — no dogs are allowed on this trail. The park also boasts 51 full-service campsites and is scattered with picnic tables. In addition, the park houses its own archery range near Highway 115 and Pine Oaks Road and conducts a multitude of educational programs.
Where: Manitou Springs, CO 80829
When: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., reservations required
Cost: Free, Paid Parking, Free shuttle that runs through downtown Manitou Springs to the base of the incline
The Lowdown: “Take a hike…it’s only 2,744 steps!” That’s the motto of the Manitou Incline. Rather than working out in a dimly lit, sweaty-smelling gym, the incline offers outdoor excursive. This strenuous journey is broken into multiple parts. After climbing over 2,000 steep stairs, the Incline connects to Barr trail to over some reprieve to those who dare to venture on this journey. If you feel so inclined, this hike is fantastic for those with a bit more experience!
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Where: 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
When: 5 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: Red Rock Canyon Open Space offers 1,474 acres of diverse land to visitors. Intricate rock formations and canyons fill the park. And all manner of outdoor activities are welcome — hiking, climbing, cycling, horseback riding, picnicking and a bicycle-free ride area, just to name a few. But if you’re making the trek from Denver, you’ll want to plan ahead as some hikers have reported running into problems that could prove inconvenient if you aren’t familiar with the area, like poorly marked trails or their phones and hiking apps not working reliably inside the park. Nonetheless, the park offers access to plenty of great hiking opportunities, including the relatively easy Mesa, Greenlee and Red Rock Canyon loop. This popular 1.8-mile trek welcomes all hikers, bikers, runners and pets.