Best Hikes: Summer of Colorado Springs Summits

    Your hiking bucket list for inspiring views and uncrowded trails on 11 excellent Colorado Springs peaks.

    best peak trails view from almagre mountain
    View of Pikes Peak's south side from Almagre Mountain. Photo by Matt Payne.

    This is Pikes Peak Country, no doubt about it. We bask in the glow of purple mountain majesty in a region named for that monstrous massif. It stakes its claim as America’s Mountain. And it passes as The Peak, needing only one name like some sort of alpine celebrity or Brazilian soccer star. But like any true A-lister, Pikes draws hordes of admirers. With access by road, rail and foot, who doesn’t want to drink in those see-to-the-edge-of-forever views? Good thing there’s a strong supporting cast of other local peaks offering solitude, wildness and vistas galore. They may lack 14er status, but don’t underestimate their stature. Standing on these summits can shift your perspective, realign your attitude and take you away from it all for a few hours or a day. Here are 11 excellent summits to scale this summer. The main eight will take you around Pikes and tag points northward along the city ridgeline. Then you’re ready for the bonus trio with more challenging access. See you on the trail.

    Raspberry Mountain

    10,605 feet | 5 miles

    Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

    You can spot Raspberry Mountain, aka Sleeping Giant, from around Divide if you’re really looking to spot this nondescript hump. Nevertheless, the bouldered summit delivers gorgeous 360-degree views that include the Crags, Catamount Reservoir, Pikes upper reaches and the Collegiate Peaks and Sangre de Cristos in the distance. Rerouted last year, the 5-mile round trip begins on the Ring the Peak Trail from the easy-to-spot trailhead along Forest Road 383 on the way to the Crags Campground.

    Almagre Mountain

    12,367 feet | 3-14.8 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

    The broad, treeless summit of Almagre is the second highest visible from the Springs. The mountain also known as Mount Baldy is often recognizable as the only other peak on the skyline covered in snow. Accessible from Gold Camp Road, it’s possible to follow rugged four-wheel drive roads from the west (Forest Road 376) or south (Forest Road 379A). But catching Forester, Trail 701 from Frosty’s Park gives a singletrack option to ascend from the east along Cheyenne Creek. North Almagre is the highest point, but it’s an easy traverse between the north and south humps. Drink in the unique aerial views of Stratton, McReynolds and Mason reservoirs, along with the southeasterly angle of Pikes.

    Mount Rosa

    11,499 feet | 4.2 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

    You know that pointy tree-covered cone on the skyline south of Pikes Peak? That’s Rosa, named for Rose Kingsley, the first known woman to climb the mountain and founder of the Springs’ first library. It’s believed that this is where Zebulon Pike ended up in 1806 when he set out to scale The Peak that now bears his name. You can reach the summit from Gold Camp Road and Frosty’s Park in about 2 miles, or make it an epic 14-mile round trip with 4,000 feet of elevation gain from the upper North Cheyenne Cañon parking lot via St. Mary’s Falls.

    Mount Muscoco

    8,020 feet | 4.5 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Easy-Intermediate

    The North Cheyenne Cañon gem shares a well-marked trailhead with Mount Cutler, but it’s worth taking the trail less traveled by hanging a right at the saddle and pressing on another 1.5 miles to the top of Muscoco. You’ll be rewarded with unique views into South Cheyenne Canyon; look for zip liners on The Broadmoor’s courses. Upper sections of the trail are steep and loose, but a full 360-degree panorama awaits at the top. The sensation is a close-up of local peaks and landmarks: Cheyenne Mountain, Mount Rosa, Saint Peter’s Dome, Gold Camp Road, Cutler, and Colorado Springs below.

    Cascade Mountain

    9,387 feet | 5.6 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

    The Heizer Trail rises out of Cascade and leads you on a steep, switchbacked ascent that gains 1,700 feet in a little less than 3 miles one-way. You’ll know you reached this rounded summit when the climb levels off among tall boulders. Those require technical scrambling to climb, but you can still enjoy views of Cascade, the North Pole, Ute Pass, the Waldo Canyon burn scar and Colorado Springs below. Looming Pikes Peak is also impressive from this close angle. The trail continues, and you can connect to the Hurricane Canyon Natural Area and eventually Barr Trail.

    Red Mountain

    7,361 feet | 3 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

    The relatively low peak offers stellar views over Manitou Springs with a side of colorful history. You’ll find the remains of an old incline railway and the foundation of a bar and dance hall rumored to have engaged in more illicit activities. It’s also the original burial site of Emma Crawford, whose haunting memory is marked each October by Manitou’s coffin race. Catch the trail at the Iron Springs Trailhead, and gain 800 feet in 1.5 miles—nothing as steep as the Incline, but a worthy and far less crowded ascent.

     

    best peak trails view from blodgett peak
    View from Blodgett Peak. Photo by Dean Dunston

    Blodgett Peak

    9,432 feet | 6.4 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced

    One of the highest points along the city’s northern ridgeline, Blodgett’s rocky promontory sees moderate traffi c, especially on top. The lower trail after the Woodmen Road trailhead is gentle, but the upper reaches grow steep, loose, rugged and hard to follow in spots. Scrambling is required to reach the summit. You’ll have gained about 2,700 feet of elevation from the parking lot, but the views over the Air Force Academy, Rampart Range and Pikes north face are a worthy reward.

    Mount Herman

    9,063 feet | 2.2 miles

    Difficulty Rating: Easy-Intermediate

    The backdrop of Monument, Mount Herman is a local favorite, as well as an occasional jumping off point for paragliders. Follow the signs from downtown Monument for about 8.5 miles to the trailhead parking lot on Mount Herman Road (FR 320). Catch Trail #716, and stick to the wide, main path at all junctions. You’ll reach the top after 1.1 miles and 800 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy the views of Monument and Black Forest, and look north for Mount Evans and Long’s Peak on a clear day.


    3 More to Explore

    Ormes Peak

    9,727 feet

    Difficulty Rating: Easy-Intermediate

    It will take you longer to ramble up Rampart Range Road than to bushwhack 1 mile round trip to reach this remote-feeling summit tucked behind Blodgett.

    Sentinel Point

    12,527 feet

    Difficulty Rating: Advanced

    The prominent rocky-topped cone stands guard on the western end of the Pikes Peak massif. Experienced wayfinders are rewarded with above timberline 360-degree views from the region’s second highest peak.

    Cheyenne Mountain

    9,565 feet

    Difficulty Rating: Advanced

    Experienced navigators can dodge private property and bushwhack up the city’s second-most famous summit. The rest of us must wait for Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s official Dixon Trail to open, hopefully in 2018.


    Details, Details

    Know before you go, especially when heading out on less trodden and more remote trails. Along with your good friend Google and the classic Pikes Peak Atlas, try these guides for solid info and directional details.

    1. Pocket Pals Pikes Peak Region map series

    2. Best Hikes Near Colorado Springs by Stewart M. Green

    3. The Best Colorado Springs Hikes by Pikes Peak Group of the Colorado Mountain Club

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