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Hiking the new Lake Moraine Trail 

click to enlarge BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
After twenty years of planning, and almost two years after the project began, the Lake Moraine Trail on Pikes Peak's east face opened for use on August 31st. Local cycling group Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates coordinated the effort to build the 4.1-mile trail that connects the Mountain View Trail near Barr Camp and Captain Jacks Trail, Forest Service trail 667, in North Cheyenne Canyon. 

Getting to the Lake Moraine Trail requires quite a bit of work due to its remote location. It's about 6 miles up Barr Trail from Manitou Springs to the Mountain View trail and then a bit more than a half mile to the Lake Moraine Trail. It's about the same distance if you come down Barr Trail from the summit of Pikes Peak, and also about 6 miles from the Elk Park Trailhead, about a mile and a half past Glen Cove on the Pikes Peak Highway.  If you want to approach if from North Cheyenne Canyon, it's more than 10 miles — all uphill — from the intersection of Bear Creek Road, Lower Gold Camp Road and High Drive, up trails 666, 776 and then 667 to where it meets the Lake Moraine trail. Add in the just over 4 miles of the trail itself, and then the return, and you're looking at a hike of more than 20 miles. Another alternate route would be to take trail 701 from Frosty's Park, near the base of Mt Rosa, to trail 667 and turn left until you get to the Lake Moraine Trail. You can do it as an overnight backpacking trip by camping in the Pike National Forest — but not on the Colorado Springs Utilities land along the Lake Moraine Trail itself.

Because of the remoteness of the trail, it's likely that the predominant users will be cyclists and long distance trail runners. If you want to tackle this trail, it's important to know that due to extensive trail repairs and re-routing that has been done recently, most maps are likely to have old, inaccurate information. The Pocket Pals Trail Maps, map #2 is the only map that I am aware of that reflects current and correct trail information.
When construction of the trail started, I envisioned being able to hike from Elk Park, around the east face of the Peak to Barr Trail, and continuing on the Lake Moraine trail to the Captain Jacks Trail until I came out in Bear Creek. A hike like this wasn't possible before the Lake Moraine Trail was built since there were no trails that connected Barr Trail to North Cheyenne Canyon, until now. And while the entire hike is mostly downhill — with some ups and downs in between — it's a long hike. Last Friday, at 8:15am, I was dropped off at the Elk Park trail, and started on my. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get down to the intersection of Bear Creek Road, Lower Gold Camp Road and High Drive, but I was on my way. 10 hours (with breaks) and 22 miles later, I met my wife at the end of the hike, sore, tired, but happy to have done it.

Happy trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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