Not every hike has to be an epic adventure or fastest known time. Sure there’s a time to push for a new PR on the Incline or explore a steep, new summit. But sometimes you just want to get outside — need to get outside — with the kids, or the older parents or the friends visiting from sea level. Maybe you just need a chance to walk with a friend, kickstart a new fitness plan or acclimate because you’re new in town. That’s when these easy hikes come in handy.
These trails in local parks and open spaces are short and flat, at least by local standards. They give space for young kids to explore nature without pushing to the point of a meltdown. And they’re all surrounded by much larger trail networks, so if you’re feeling good, it’s easy to add another trail, or two or three, and keep exploring the great Colorado Springs outdoors.
Enjoy these short, easy hikes in the Springs, and let us know if you have other favorites.
The Columbine Trail begins at the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center at the entrance to North Cheyenne Cañon Park. You can follow the wide, gentle path alongside Cheyenne Creek for a mile into the canyon before it gets steep. And there are multiple spots where kids can splash and play in the creek.
Follow the Columbine Trail 3.8 miles up the canyon to Helen Hunt Falls, but note that it will get steeper and gain nearly 1,300 feet in elevation.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Acorn Alley Trail
This half-mile trail delivers easy hiking along a gentle slope on a universally accessible pathway. The trail circles north of the campground, and it’s one of Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s pet-friendly trails. With lots of sunny exposure among the scrub oak, Acorn Alley makes a great year-round option.
Add another mile with a combined loop on Bobcat Way and Soaring Kestrel trails.
Garden of the Gods
Perkins Central Garden Trail
There are so many options for easy hikes with gorgeous views in Garden of the Gods. The easiest is a classic loop among the Gateway rocks and Sentinel Rock on this fully paved, gentle and wheelchair-accessible path from the main parking lot.
Add a relatively flat, approximately 2-mile loop from the parking lot following the Dakota Trail, Foothills Trail, Gateway Trail and Susan G. Bretag Trail. This is a great option if the central Garden is especially busy.
North Monument Valley Park
Pikes Peak Greenway Trail and park loops
This is literally a walk in the park. But we’re big fans of this leafy Old North End outdoor space. The playground, curving rock walls and grassy fields make it perfect for little kids, and the stately tree canopy usually glows with color deep into fall. Park on the east side where Fontanero Street runs into the park. Then head down the wide, universally accessible path into the park. We recommend taking a hard right at the bottom of the hill to make a singletrack loop through the trees. It will feel more adventurous for the littles, and if you’re lucky, you might see nesting owls overhead. It’s only about 0.5 miles to the north edge of the park where the wide path loops back, so you can keep your distance as short as you want.
You can follow the wide Pikes Peak Greenway south and make a full 4.3 mile loop of the entire Monument Valley Park.
Santa Fe Open Space
Start this hike at the Palmer Lake Recreation Area, aka the lake in the center of Palmer Lake. Kids will love throwing stones and feeding ducks before or after your hike. You have to follow the wide, flat New Santa Fe Regional Trail for a half-mile south to the entrance into the Santa Fe Open Space. Then you’ll have a roughy 1-mile loop with views of Ben Lomand Mountain, Elephant Rock and Mount Herman. Follow the Ranch Road and Far View Trail for a sunny loop; then return on the New Santa Fe Trail.
Add another half-mile to the east side of your loop on the Burlington Trail.
Palmer Park is an outdoor oasis for an excellent hike in the center of town. Park in the Grandview Overlook parking lot and start and end your hike with a spectacular view of the city and full Front Range. Follow the easy Grandview Trail east to contour the ridge through sandstone rock, scrub oak stands and shadier pine forest. The trail remains generally flat for about 1.2 miles before dropping downhill at the big curve in the road. So go as far as you want; then return the way you came.
At about 0.8 miles, you can take a left onto the more rugged but intermediate Cheyenne Trail to add a half-mile loop to your route.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
From the west side of the park’s first parking lot off of Highway 24, follow the Sand Creek Trail 0.2 miles, then take the right fork onto the Contemplative Trail. You’ll wind around red sandstone ridges for a half-mile, gaining 150 feet of elevation. Kids will love exploring the rocks. You can return the way you came or loop back on the Sand Canyon Trail.
Follow the Sand Canyon Trail up to another mile higher into the canyon.