Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak (14,110′), Front Range

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) fourteener is located in Pike National Forest, 12 miles (19 km) west of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude. The uppermost portion of Pikes Peak, above 14,000 feet (4,267 m) elevation, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

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Trail Directions

Take HWY 24 west from Colorado Springs for approximately 14 miles until you see the sign for the Pikes Peak Hwy. Turn left and follow the signs.

The road is paved but lacks guard rails so can be unsettling for first time mountain drivers.

This is a toll road with an entrance fee at the base of the mountain.

Trailhead Directions

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak (9,429′), Front Range

Blodgett Peak is located in Blodgett Peak Open Space along the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. The peak has a small summit that provides unobstructed views in all directions, rising from the eastern edge of the Rockies. The trailhead is situated close to the U.S. Air Force Academy, north of Colorado Springs.

Elevation Map Pancake Rocks

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Trail Directions

The Blodgett Peak trailhead begins in the Blodgett Peak Open Space. Heading out from the parking lot the easiest path to navigate is the closed road, which leads to the water tower.

Take the social trail below the water tower to continue to the peak. The trail will wind into a canyon and begin gaining elevation more quickly. Loose scree and a steep route define this section of the trail.

The social trail leads through the Waldo Canyon wildfire scar, where there is less scree and better footing. Once on the ridge, head to the right (east) to reach the summit. There is a short boulder field scramble to the small summit.

Trailhead Directions

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks (11,060′), Front Range

Pancake Rocks Trail shares the trailhead used to reach Horsethief Falls for the first .7 miles. The trail climbs trough heavy forest before leveling out near the two trail junctions. At the second junction you can go straight for a .5 mile trip to Horsethief Falls, or turn right to reach the interesting stacked pancake looking granite formations 2 miles away.

The Crags are also nearby and a great hike to a scenic overlook.

Elevation Map Pancake Rocks

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Trail Directions

The trail starts on the SE corner of the parking lot. Trail #704 to Horsethief Park begins by climbing steeply into a dense forest. Once the terrain levels out you come across a left turn marked with a ring-the-peak signpost. Say straight at the junction to continue to Horsethief Falls.

There is ample signage at the second trail junction, where you will head to the right (south) up Pancake Rocks Trail. The are many switchbacks and the trail is steep. 

Once you gain the ridgeline, the rest of the hike is on easier terrain. The trail winds along the ridge and drops in elevation before reaching Pancake Rocks.  

Trailhead Directions

Mt Audubon (13,223′), Front Range

Mt Audubon (13,223′), Front Range

Mt Audubon (13,223′), Front Range

Mt Audubon is the highest peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness that has an established trail nearly to the summit. It is located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, about an hour outside of Boulder.

The great 360 degree view from the summit looks out over the mountains of the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the west, Rocky Mountain National Park to the north, and the Front Range and plains to the east. Beautiful alpine lakes like Mitchell and Blue Lake are scattered in the valleys.

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Trail Directions

The Beaver Creek Trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness and climbs through the trees for 1.7 miles. At the first junction head west (left) onto the Mount Audubon Trail as it heads west.

The Mount Audubon Trail continues climbing above timberline. The trail ends at the saddle where, there is a view down into the Coney Lake drainage. For the final half-mile, and 600 vertical feet, follow the rock cairns up the talus to the summit.

Trailhead Directions

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road (9,494′), Fourmile Canyon

Shelf Road Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway is a dirt road passable with a 2WD vehicle in good weather. It follows the old stagecoach route between Cripple Creek and  Cañon City built in 1892. It twists along Fourmile Creek, with long bands of limestone towering above and below the road. 

The Gold Belt Tour was designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as a National Scenic Byway in 2000. It is one of eleven America’s Byways designated in Colorado. Fremont Peak and the Royal Gorge Bridge are located not far from the southern end of the road and are a favorite in the area.

A sport climber’s dream, with bolted routes on stable limestone

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Route Directions

When entering the road in Cripple Creek there is a sign that recommends a 4×4 or a high clearance vehicle. The road, however, is well graded but issues could occur if snow or heavy rains hit the area. Any passenger vehicle can easily drive this road in good weather.

Trailhead Directions

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak (7,273′), Royal Gorge

Fremont Peak is the high point along a narrow ridge of hills rising near the eastern edge of the Royal Gorge’s north rim. The desert peak is part of a very small sub-range of mountains called the Gorge Hills. These peaks are relatively low and are covered in desert flora. Great views of the Royal Gorge, the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and Pikes Peak can be seen along the trail and summit.

Don’t miss the Elkhorn Loop Picnic Area and Overlook to get a closer look of the bridge and the Royal Gorge, only a couple minutes drive from the EastRidge Trailhead. Great views just steps from your car, check out the last two pictures.

Summers in this area can be dangerously hot, plan accordingly.

The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest bridge in the United States. It spans 880 feet across the Arkansas river at a height of 955 feet. Built in 1929, it was the highest bridge in the world until 2001.

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Trail Directions

From the Eastridge trailhead head downhill and to the left (heading south) to get on County Road 389B.

Folllow County Road 389B until it ends at the radio towers

From the end of the road, you will see Fremont Peak across a saddle to the southeast. Follow the the trail heading in that direction.

You quickly come across a trail junction with a sign for the Summit trail. Follow the trail towards the peak (southeast).

Once underneath the peak, pick a social path up the steep slope to the summit. There is no maintained trail.

Trailhead Directions

The Crags (10,856′), Front Range

The Crags (10,856′), Front Range

The Crags (10,856′), Front Range

The Crags Trail #664 follows Four Mile Creek through deep forests and lush meadows, ending at a rocky dome with unobstructed views in all directions. At the summit of the windswept dome there are views of the Rampart Range, Pikes Peak Mastif, Catamount Reservoirs, and distant mountain ranges to the west and north.

The majority of the Crags trail has a gentle elevation gain, with the first and last half-mile gaining the most elevation.

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Trail Directions

Take the clear and well-used path over a bridge and through the forest.

After climbing for 1/2 mile you will see the trail junction with the Devil’s Playground #664A, stay to the left on 664 to The Crags.

Continue following Fourmile Creek northeast through a valley. The trail will be wooded at first, but will eventually open up into a meadow with views of rocky cliffs and the rough western flank of Pikes Peak.

During the last 1/2 mile the trail re-enters the forest and gains elevation as it turns north along a small ridge.

The trail ends on the top of a rocky outcropping with excellent views all around.

Trailhead Directions

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak (12,713′), Front Range

Hallett Peak, viewed from east Rocky Mountain National Park, is distinctive with it’s slanted square structure towering over the landscape. As you near the summit however, the square melts away and you are left looking at a more traditional mountain silhouette. Rising along the Continental Divide, Hallett Peak divides Chaos Canyon to the south and Tyndall Gorge to the north.

The route to the summit first traverses the summit of Flattop Mountain on a well maintained trail. The Arapaho Indians called the Flattop Mountain corridor “The Big Trail”. The trail was formally constructed in 1925, was rehabilitated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940, and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Trail Directions

From Bear Lake take the well maintained Flattop mountain trail to the summit of Flattop Mountain. No maintained trail reaches Hallett Peak, so cross the saddle above Tyndall Glacier and scramble up steep talus to the summit.

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Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

Lake Helene (10,630′), Front Range

There is no signage and you must follow a social trail to get to the lake, but despite it’s obscurity, Lake Helene is a spectacular destination inside Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is situated at treeline, between Flattop Mountain (12,324′) and Notchtop Mountain (12,129′).

Even lesser known Two Rivers Lake is a short walk from Lake Helene, and also worth the visit while in the alpine valley.

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Trail Directions

Follow the Bear Lake trail for less than 1/2 mile to the Odessa Lake Trail Junction and take the trail to the right. The trail climbs above Bear Lake to the Flattop Mountain trail junction. Continue towards Odessa Lake, climbing through forests and meadows. After approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead you will see social trails on your left for Lake Helene. The lake is partially concealed from the trail and spurs are fairly easy to miss. If you make a sharp hairpin turn north (right) and begin descending, you’ve passed it.

Two Rivers Lake is near treeline just downstream of Lake Helene. A thick forest and boulder field stand between the main trail and lake, making it easier to walk east from Lake Helene through the forest and meadows.

Trailhead Directions

Garden of the Gods (6,400′)          Front Range

Garden of the Gods (6,400′) Front Range

Garden of the Gods (6,400′) Front Range

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.”

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Mills (9,965′) and Jewel (9,990′) Lake, Front Range

Mills (9,965′) and Jewel (9,990′) Lake, Front Range

Mills (9,965′) and Jewel (9,990′) Lake, Front Range

Located within Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mills and Jewel Lake provide dramatic views of the surrounding peaks. The Longs peak area is prominently visible from the valley. The summer route initially takes you to Alberta Falls, another popular destination in the park.

Mills Lake is named in honor of Enos Mills (1870-1914), who is considered the father of Rocky Mountain National Park.

The view from Mills Lake towards Longs Peak is the image used on one side of the 2006 Colorado State Quarter.

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Trail Directions

The winter route was utilized , bypassing Alberta Falls and intersecting with the summer trail about 50 ft from the Loch Trail/Glacier Gorge intersection.

Trailhead Directions

Crater Lake (10,400′) and Mirror Lake (10,325′), Front Range

Crater Lake (10,400′) and Mirror Lake (10,325′), Front Range

Crater Lake (10,400′) and Mirror Lake (10,325′), Front Range

Mirror Lake and Crater lake are found deep in the heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Cascade Falls is a popular destination found along the trail. It is about 4.5 miles in and comprises of multiple waterfalls.

The destination, Crater Lake, sits in a large bowl under Mount Achonee (12,469′), Lone Eagle Peak (11,920′) and several unnamed 12,000′ peaks. Peck Glacier and several perennial snowfields can be seen clinging to the steep terrain west of Lone Eagle Peak. This trail is rated as moderate, but if done in a single day the mileage would make this a difficult hike.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness encompasses over 50 lakes 133 miles of trails, with many other beautiful destinations such as Mt Audubon and Mitchell Lake.

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Trail Directions

The trail begins along the west shore of Monarch Lake. The trail is level as it follows the northern shore of the lake. There are occasional switchbacks as the trail follows Buchanan Creek through pine, aspen, and spruce forests. There are several waterfalls along Buchanan Creek and later along Cascade Creek, including Cascade Falls.

There are two trail junctions, both of which are clearly marked. At ~3.5 miles stay right on the Cascade Trail at the junction for Buchanan Pass Trail. At the junction ~6.5 miles, stay right to head toward Crater Lake. The trail to the left continues to Pawnee Pass Trail. After a short climb you’ll come to an open meadow with a large boulder field on the left-hand side. The trail crosses a large flat rock bed and is marked by 5-6 cairns. After following the cairns back onto the clearly defined trail, several steep switchbacks take you up to the basin.

The trail appears to end at Mirror Lake as you walk around the side (right) of the lake, but the trail picks up on the west side of Mirror Lake and takes you to Crater Lake, a very short distance.

Trailhead Directions

Almagre Mountain (12,360′), Front Range

Almagre Mountain (12,360′), Front Range

Almagre Mountain (12,360′), Front Range

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.

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Trail Directions

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.

Trailhead Directions

Mt Rosa (11,500′), Front Range

Mt Rosa (11,500′), Front Range

Mt Rosa (11,500′), Front Range

Mt Rosa is located in the Pike National Forest just south of Pikes Peak and is the only cone shaped summit in the area. This provides rare unobstructed 360 degree views from it’s small but lofty summit, one mile above Colorado Springs.

From it’s summit you can see Rosemount Reservoir, Pikes Peak, Almagre Mountain, Cheyenne Mountain, and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range to the southwest.

The mountain was named for Rose Kingsley, an aristocratic young English woman who lived in Colorado Springs and started its first library. She was an avid hiker, and earned the nickname Rosa del Mont, or Rose of the Mount.

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Trail Directions

From Old Stage Road, turn onto Forest Service Road 379, which goes to Frosty’s Park. You MUST have a high clearance vehicle to proceed the last 1.5 miles up the road to Frosty’s Park. After the meadow turn right and hike along Trail No. 672, also known as Nelson’s Trail, for less than 2 miles. Turn right on Trail No. 673, which pushes steeply up .75 miles to the small rocky summit.

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Mitchell and Blue Lake (11,360′), Front Range

Mitchell and Blue Lake (11,360′), Front Range

Mitchell and Blue Lake (11,360′), Front Range

Mitchell and Blue Lake are located in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, west of Boulder, Colorado. Brainard Lake itself is a small lake at the junction of two major valleys in the east central Indian Peaks Wilderness. The northern of the two valleys holds Mitchell and Blue Lakes, while the southern valley holds Long Lake and Lake Isabelle.

Mt Audubon (13,223′) is another example of the beautiful trails located in the park.

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Trail Directions

The wooded trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness near the Mitchell Creek bridge. It continues to Mitchell Lake, crossing a second bridge over the inlet. From the lake you can see Mt Audubon across the water. Another 2 miles of trail climb more steeply, following the creek into an open valley to Blue Lake. This lake lies at tree line below Mount Toll, a cone-shaped pinnacle on the Continental Divide.

Trailhead Directions

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565′), Front Range

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565′), Front Range

Cheyenne Mountain (9,565′), Front Range

Cheyenne Mountain’s is a triple peak mountain with the geological summit on the southwestern portion of the mountain. In 2017 there were no trails to the summit, so it was necessary to navigate most of the way without a trail through the Pike National Forest. In late 2018, Cheyenne Mountain State Park completed the Talon/Dixon 15.6 mile trail to the summit.

Pikes Peak, Almagre Mountain, and Mt Rosa are nearby neighbors that are also worth a visit while in the area.

The mountain serves as a host for military, communications, recreational, and residential functions. The underground operations center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was built during the Cold War to monitor North American airspace for missile launches and military aircraft. Built deep within the granite, it was designed to withstand bombing and fallout from a nuclear war. Many of its functions were transferred to Peterson Air Force Base in 2006.

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Trail Directions

The most direct route begins alongside Old Stage Road. Old Stage road/368 climbs up a valley along the west side of Cheyenne Mountain from Colorado Springs. There is a turnout for about 3 cars across the street from where the trek starts (see pictures and Directions). Once across the street the most direct path to the summit is to head east-northeast until the summit ridge where you will turn north-northeast.

After climbing a fairly steep section after the road, things flatten out as you traverse the ridge of a smaller hill. There is a faint trail heading to the northeast along this section, follow it. 50 feet before the end of the faint trail head east and down a shallow gully before heading up to the summit ridge. There is very deep forest and brush in this section, so look for the path of least resistance. This sections gets steeper as you near the summit ridge.

Once on the summit ridge you will see the true summit to the north-northeast. Cross one more shallow gully before heading up to the summit.

Trailhead Directions