From the youngest trail tykes to the fit and fast adventure rippers, these family-friendly trails are sure to keep your whole hiking family happy.
Want to get off the paved path and away from the Gateway Rocks crowds in Garden of the Gods? This easy 1-mile roundtrip hike allows your crew to legally scramble around the red rocks, and the Siamese Twins Rocks even supply the picture-perfect natural window to frame your family pic with Pikes Peak in the background. You can catch the trail at either the north or south ends of the Spring Creek Trailhead parking lot. Both are well-marked and maintained. If you want a shorter walk, it’s only .2 miles to the rocks from the southern end of the parking lot. To extend your hike, follow the Cabin Canon Trail just north of the parking lot for an additional loop.
Hiker Treats: Head to the Balanced Rock Café inside the Garden of the God’s Trading Post (324 Beckers Ln., Manitou Springs) for a scoop of Colorado City Creamery ice cream. Go by foot on the Cabin Canon Trail, or drive around the Garden Lane/Garden Drive loop.
To Get There: From I-25, take Exit 146, and go west on Garden of the Gods Road for 2.3 miles. Turn left on N. 30th St. Go 1.3 miles and turn right into the Garden of the Gods park on Gateway Road just across from the Visitor’s Center. Turn right and follow the winding one-way Juniper Way Loop through the park, veering right on Garden Drive on the west side of the loop. At 2.2 miles from the entrance, turn into Parking Lot 14 on your right for the Spring Cañon Trailhead.
Volksmarch Red Fox
What is a volksmarch, you ask? It’s a European-style, noncompetitive 3.1-mile (5K) fitness walk. The name originates from German: “people’s march.” And you’ll find a course for it in Black Forest’s Fox Run Regional Park. The wide trail leaves from the Fox Run Regional Park Trailhead, with signs and blue blazes on the trees to mark the way. The easy rolling terrain, interpretive nature signs and majestic views of Pikes Peak may invite a leisurely hike, but the thick pine forest creates the feel of being in the mountains without the drive west. The wide, even path makes it a great choice for families of all ages.
For more wilderness adventure, cut off on any of the smaller trails through the woods, and watch for stick shelters to explore. This is the kind of forest where a kid can feel fully immersed in nature. But be aware the maze of trails inside the Volksmarch loop are not well-marked, making it easy to get turned around. Most trails lead back to a main trail at some point, but be prepared to go the extra distance. Younger hikers and older family members will find easy access to forest, water and fresh air on the nature trail around Fox Run Park’s two ponds, and there are fields and a playground nearby on the southern side of the park (enter from Stella Drive for easiest access to playground and lakes).
Hiker Treats: Enjoy a post-hike pizza and pint (for the big kids, of course) at Walter’s 303 Pizzeria and Publik House (2690 North Gate Blvd., just east of Roller Coaster Road).
To Get There: From I-25, take Exit 156, and go east on North Gate Blvd. Drive 2.7 miles then turn north/left on Roller Coaster Road. At 2 miles, you’ll see the first park entrance on your left at Stella Road. To reach the Fox Run Regional Park Trailhead, continue on Roller Coaster Road another .8 miles, and find the parking lot on your left.
Pine forests, year-round water flow and, of course, the seven bridges that crisscross North Cheyenne Creek along Trail 622 make it a favorite any time of year. The initial .7-mile walk on the closed portion of dirt Gold Camp Road from the parking lot to the trailhead can feel long, but the trail that awaits is worth every step. Watch for a metal sign on your right side just after crossing the creek. The littles in your group may only make it to the second bridge before ripping off their shoes to splash in the water. But those who can go the distance will be rewarded by waterfalls, large boulders and beautiful views. Those wishing to go more than 2 miles in will find history at the cabin ruins of Jones Park (If so, take a right at the junction on Trail 668 at 1.9 miles). Watch for wild raspberries along the trail in late summer.
Hiker Treats: We love a smoothie or hot drink at the canyon’s eclectic Sacred Grounds Cafe just outside North Cheyenne Cañon Park (1801 W. Cheyenne Blvd.).
To Get There: From I-25 take Exit 140 for Tejon Street. Turn right onto S. Tejon Street. Drive .4 miles and take a right on Cheyenne Boulevard. Go 2.5 miles, and stay right as the road enters North Cheyenne Cañon Park. Follow this road 3.2 miles past the Starsmore Discovery Center to the parking lot, just before the paved road turns to dirt.