For Springs locals, hiking Red Rocks usually means hitting the trail early or late in the day to avoid crowds and traffic getting in and out of the bustling parking lot of Red Rock Open Space along U.S. 24. But for those who know of the place west of the Springs, Red Rocks means a cool, quiet escape with views of rolling foothills and no city in sight. Sitting within aspens and ponderosa pines is a Colorado geological wonder that make for an unexpected treat.
This Red Rocks Trail hides 4 miles north of Woodland Park and about a half-mile off of Colorado Highway 67. The entrance sign is a bit misleading with the description of a picnic/campground, but instead of driving through to the campsites, stop at the small dirt lot that you reach first. From here, walk through the wooden fence and follow the trail for about five minutes. There won’t be a sign to direct you, and the trail appears to be a random, aimless water runoff through a mitigated forest. But trust the path—it will lead you to something spectacular.
In less than a half-mile, you’ll start to see a red hue of towering, unusually-shaped sandstone formations that hide within the forest. Welcome to the wonder! The red rocks here are narrower than those in the open space in the Springs and seem to be taller. It’s like there’s an organized pattern to these blocks of red stone, hidden in a part of the forest where not many people go.
The trail tapers off after the first set of rocks, leaving you to decide what to discover first. Follow along the second set of rocks and wander behind them.
Yes, you’ll be tempted to climb the rocks, and there are ways to reach the top. The sandstone can be slippery, so be careful and don’t take a step more unless you’re confident. The views from above stretch for miles in every direction: rolling hills, forests and a picture-perfect vista of Pikes Peak. In the middle of the larger rocks are formations that are more kid-friendly. There are winding coves that you can walk through with hidden, cavelike crevices that make for a fun game of outdoor hide-and-seek. Also, look for the wind-carved holes that are big enough to crawl through to make your hike more like a scramble session. This Earth-made playground is a secret within itself for explorers of all ages.
Know Before You Go
- Bring shoes with good tread, the sandstone rocks can be slippery.
- This area is in Pike National Forest, so trad climbing that requires pitons is not allowed. Rock climbing and scrambling here is at your own risk.
- Vault toilets are available in the campground about 2 miles away.
- Brush up on your outdoor etiquette with Leave No Trace.
From Woodland Park, turn north on CO-67. After about 4 miles, turn right on Red Rocks View, where you’ll see a sign for the Red Rocks Group picnic area/campground. When the dirt road forks, keep right and park at the dirt pull-offs on your right.