Roughly a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, reaching depths of 180 feet, Trappers Lake is the second largest natural lake in Colorado after Grand Lake. You reach the lake by taking the Flat Tops Scenic Byway from Yampa or Meeker.
The trail around the lake is named for Arthur Carhart, whose survey near the lake in 1919 inspired him to recommend preserving the area for future generations. Arthur Carhart’s efforts set the stage for the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Wilderness Preservation System which includes Trappers Lake and the rest of the Flat Tops Wilderness.
Destination: Trappers Lake Trailhead: Arthur H Carhart Trail #1815 Round trip: 5.5 miles / 8.8 km Elevation: 9,627′ – 9,950′ (323′) / 2,934m – 3,033m (99m)
From the end of Trappers Lake road, take the Arthur H Carhart Trail in either direction around the lake. The trailhead is next to the Trappers Lake Overlook. The trail is easy to follow in summer conditions.
Garden of the Gods is a geologically unique 480 acre park, having one of the most complete and complex exposures of earth’s history anywhere in the country. It is popular for hiking, technical rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding. There are more than 15 miles of trails, with a 1.1-mile trail running through the heart of the park, that is paved and wheelchair accessible.
The main trail in the park, Perkins Central Garden Trail, is a paved, wheelchair-accessible 1.1-mile trail. It travels through the heart of the park’s largest and most scenic red rocks! The trail begins at the North Parking lot.
Dedication Plaque reads “Garden of the Gods is given to The City of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfillment of his wish that it be kept forever free to the public.”
Almagre Mountain (Mt Baldy) is the only other peak, besides Pikes Peak, above treeline when viewed from Colorado Springs. Located in the Pike National Forest just south of Pikes Peak, this hike is rated easy, but getting there can be a challenge. In order to drive to the closed gate on FSR 379A you will need to navigate a moderate 4X4 shelf road. The reward is unobstructed views from the summit area, with exceptional views of Pikes Peak and the cog railroad.
Nearby Mt Rosa and Cheyenne Mountain are also excellent hikes in the area.
Destination: Almagre Mountain Trailhead: Gate on FS379A Round trip: 2.5 miles / 4 km Elevation: 11,815′ -12,360′ (545′)/ 3,601m-3,767m (166m)
County: El Paso Agency: U.S. Forest Service Nat’l Forest: Pike
From Old Stage Road, turn onto Forest Service Road 379, which goes to Frosty’s Park. You should have a high clearance vehicle to proceed the last 1.5 miles up the road to Frosty’s Park as of this writing. FSR 379A will be to the right further up and immediately begins climbing more steeply than FSR 379. If you do not have a 4X4 high clearance vehicle you will want to park at the intersection.
Mt Evans can be accessed via the highest paved road in North America, reaching an elevation of 14,130′. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, maintained by the Forest Service, offers easy access to Colorado’s inspiring high mountain environment. A drive up and short walk to the top of Mt Evans will take your breath away in more ways than one.
From Mt Evans you will see another 14,000′ peak in close proximity, Mt Bierstadt (14,160′).
Destination: Mt Evans Trailhead: Mt Evans summit parking Lot Round trip: .25 miles / .4 km hike (14 miles /22.5 km scenic drive) Elevation: 14,130′-14,264′ (+134′) / 4,307m – 4,348m (+41m) County: Clear Creek Agency: U.S. Forest Service Nat’l Wilderness: Mt Evans
From the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center, drive south about 8 miles, then turn left (east) onto a dirt road. Drive the remaining 3.5 miles to the trailhead. To view the falls, hike about 1/2 mile, cross the creek, then scramble up the rocks and stream into a crevasse where the 30 ft. high falls cascade down.
Paint Mines Park is located on the eastern plains near Calhan, Colorado. The 750 acre park features geological formations including spires, chasms, overhangs, and carved walls. These formations were created through erosion, creating gullies and exposed layers of clay and jasper. Oxidization of iron deposits created the colorful clays, which range from light yellow to deep red.
Another interesting geological site on the eastern plains is the Picket Wire Canyonlands Tracksite. Further south on the eastern plains, it is home to the largest dinosaur track site in North America.
From either trailhead the best approach is to head for the west side of the park as this is where 90% of the rock formations are located that make this park distinct.
Taking the loop from Paint Mines Rd trailhead, the trail initially heads east and curves to the south. Once heading south you’ll have views into the valley and a bench to soak it all in. The trail then descends into valley with white carved walls and spires immediately to the west.
Shortly after the white spires you’ll approach a trail junction. Take the trail to the right (south), which leads deeper into the gully area. There are many beautiful dead-end spurs that take you closer to the formations. This is a great place to take your time and explore all of these side trails. The canyons here range in color from deep reds, to yellows, to white.
The main trail continues east and gradually climbs out of the gully. There are more formations to the north before leveling out on grasslands. From here the trail continues east to a junction with a second trailhead. Take the left trail northwest over vast rolling grasslands to continue the loop. The trail widens here and provides views of Pikes Peak far off to the west along with a bench on top of a slight rise.
There are a couple of smaller formations to the south as you continue to the southwest. Eventually you’ll come back to the original trail junction. Head straight (west) to get back to the trailhead.