Here’s the thing about snowshoeing in the Pikes Peak region: You want deep snow, but you want to be able to get to the trailhead, and you can’t really plan ahead for fresh flakes. In fact, the most difficult part of snowshoeing is finding the perfect snow on the perfect day. Watch the forecast, and plan on heading out in the morning before the sun melts any new snow. Best bets around here: Locations north and west of Colorado Springs. Here are three that won’t disappoint.
Florissant Fossil Beds
This national monument is about an hour from Colorado Springs. Trails are gentle, but there are enough hills to give you a decent workout. Head up and over the ridge toward the Boulder Creek Trail to find sweeping views of the park as well as a glimpse of the backside of Pikes Peak. There are more than 15 miles of easy to moderate trails in the park, and you can spend hours connecting them.
To get there: Take U.S. Highway 24 to Teller County Road 1; left on Teller 1 to the park entrance.
Mueller State Park
Mueller is a great winter destination. There is one well-maintained road in the park and abundant trailhead parking. The trails here are favorites for cross-country skiers as well as snowshoers and winter hikers, so if you choose the shoe over the ski, stay off their tracks when you can. Mueller’s trails offer sweeping views of mountain ranges in the distance, and most are easy to moderate for snowshoeing. Don’t get carried away by how easy it is to explore here, because all the trails start along the ridge and head downhill — which means the return trip is relentlessly uphill! Want to extend your day? Bring the sleds for a few passes on Preacher’s Hollow. Favorite trails for ‘shoeing here: Outlook Ridge, Elk Meadow to Peak View, and Rock Pond.
To get there: Take U.S. Highway 24 west to Colorado Highway 67 at Divide; turn left and follow to the park entrance.
Horsethief Park and Pancake Rocks
This network of trails never disappoints in the snow department. It starts at 9,700 feet and its snow cover is protected by dense stands of pine and spruce. Pancake Rocks is probably one of the coldest and steepest winter routes in the region, but the stillness of the forest and the sun-drenched top make it worth the effort. Want more sunshine? Choose the Horsethief Park trail, part of Ring the Peak Trail that winds through an open high-mountain meadow before plunging into deep forests. Parking is easy in a large lot at the Little Ike Tunnel on Highway 67 about an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs. Horsethief and Pancake Rocks share a common trailhead; the trail splits about .75 miles in.
To get there: Take U.S. Highway 24 west to Colorado Highway 67 at Divide; turn left and follow to the parking lot at the Little Ike Tunnel.