Striking Mueller’s Daytrip Gold

    Mueller State Park makes access easy for stunning fall color, less than an hour from the Springs. Here’s your three-stop, leaf-peeping itinerary.

    gold aspen at mueller state park
    Photo by James A. Van Hoy

    The Donut Mill

    Start with a sugar rush on your way through Woodland Park. Everything is large at this local institution. The biscuits and gravy fill a plate. The cinnamon rolls are as big as your face. And, yes, even the namesake donuts are supersized. Don’t expect gourmet pastries, but if sugary sweet dough circles are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find all the usuals, from glazed to chocolate to variously frosted and sugared. At least you’ll be burning off these calories soon.

    310 W. Midland Ave., Woodland Park

    Mueller State Park

    Try to keep your eyes on the road as you pass through Divide and round the back of Pikes Peak. The 5,000-plus acre Mueller is a gem of the state park system, offering lots of easily-accessible activities and sprawling groves of aspen to come ablaze with color. You can get sweeping views from the visitor center, but to really experience the conifer forests, aspen groves, meadows and crags, get out on the 55 miles of trail.

    For big views with little kids, head for the Grouse Mountain Overlook, the highest point of the park at 9,843 feet. In .8 miles round-trip, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Pikes Peak to the east and the Sangre de Cristos to the southwest.

    The 1.09-mile Overlook Ridge lives up to its name with three inspiring viewpoints.

    And to go deep, follow the rolling 5.4-mile loop of the Cheesman Ranch trail through meadows and dense aspen stands. You may encounter the local elk herd, and you’ll pass the namesake homestead.

    Bikes and horses are allowed on some trails, but pets are not. Be ready to pay the $7 per vehicle day-use fee.

    21045 State Hwy. 67, Divide

    Paradox Beer Company

    You don’t have to go far to refuel. Paradox opened its new 100-percent renewable energy-
    powered brewery and taproom this year in Divide with larger capacity for its growing distribution—11 states and counting—and a grand view of Pikes Peak. The craft wizards have built a strong following among connoisseurs for their rare and original barrel-aged brews. We’re talking lots of sours and wild ales, such as the Skully Barrel No. 34, AKA Ginger Pear Sour. Plenty of unique flavors to pair with the likes of Elk Bratwurst Sliders or brick oven pizzas being served by McGinty’s Wood Oven Pub.

    10 Buffalo Court, Divide


    Want to stay longer? Three cabins in Mueller State Park are available to rent, along with 133 campsites. Cabin prices drop Nov. 1—good timing for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.