September 07, 2018 Slideshows » Columns

Hiking the new Lake Moraine Trail 

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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.
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Bob Falcone
The Elk Park/FS trail 652 trailhead at 8:15am. The trailhead is at 12,000', about a mile or so past Glen Cove, off of the Pikes Peak Highway. After the first long switchback, look for a gate on the left side of the road. The trailhead is a short distance down the dirt road.
Bob Falcone
The trail runs along this ledge for about a mile before tuning left and dropping back down below treeline. The trail is easy to follow.
Bob Falcone
At about 1.2 miles, the trail turns right and starts a steep, rocky downhill section. On the way down, watch for some old cast iron machinery of some type that was left next to the trail.
Bob Falcone
About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, at the bottom of the steep downhill section, a trail to the Oil Creek tunnel intersects with Trail 652. Keep left to continue on to Barr Camp. The distance from here to Barr Camp is more like 4 miles.
Bob Falcone
From here, the trail is a more gentle downhill. At about 2.2 miles, the trail bears right. Watch for this sign.
Bob Falcone
There are great views of Pikes Peak from trail 652.
Bob Falcone
At 5.5 miles, you'll arrive at Barr Camp. This is a good place to take a break, pick up some snacks, chat with other hikers and the caretakers there. I've always had wonderful conversations with other hikers there.
Bob Falcone
About a quarter mile down Barr Trail from Barr Camp, turn right onto the Mt View Trail.
Bob Falcone
A little more than a quarter mile from Barr Trail, the Lake Moraine Trail starts. Bear left here to start on the trail.
Bob Falcone
The information sign has lots of information and is one the best trail info signs I've seen in a long time.
Bob Falcone
A great view from the Lake Moraine Trail.
Bob Falcone
About a mile from the Mt View end of the trail, the Lake Moraine trail crosses the Cog Railway.
Bob Falcone
Looking up the Cog. Heed the signs and stay only on the designated crossing.
Bob Falcone
The Lake Moraine Trail has its own mileage markers.
Bob Falcone
Another great view along the trail. Just past this meadow, the trail crosses a creek at mile marker 2, then starts a moderately steep uphill section. About a half mile after starting up hill the trail levels out a bit.
Bob Falcone
There are a number of these well constructed bridges on the Lake Moraine Trail. If you bring a filter or other type of water treatment with you, you will have a number of places to refill your water bottles.
Bob Falcone
A little over 10 miles from Elk Park, the trail crosses a Colorado Springs Utilities service road. As with the railroad crossing, stay within the crossing and don't wander up and down the road. Once across the road, the trail climbs again in a series of switchbacks until it crests a ridge and then starts back downhill.
Bob Falcone
About 10.7 miles from Elk Park and just past Lake Moraine Trail mile 4, the trail ends at a CSU service road.
Bob Falcone
A couple hundred feet down the service road from the end of the Lake Moraine Trail, trail 667 starts at the forest service boundary. This is just under 11 miles from the start of the hike. From here I stayed on 667 as it wound its way downhill past Jones Park, past Mt Kineo, and to where it meets trail 776 on Mt Buckhorn.
Bob Falcone
At about 13.3 miles the trail meets trail 701, which goes to Mt Rosa and Frostys Park. Stay left onto 667. From this point on, trail 667 has been heavily re-routed, so older maps may not show the new route. The new routing of 667 includes a number of long switchbacks, making the hike longer than older maps would show. At about 16.5 miles trail 668 meets 667. Stay on 667. A little further down 667 meets 622A (Seven Bridges Trail). Again, stay on 667.
Bob Falcone
At about 18.5 miles 667 crosses trail 776. Turn left onto 776. Follow it downhill for about a half mile until it meets trail 666 and turn right, following it down to High Drive. From there turn left to where it meets Lower Gold Camp Road and Bear Creek Road, for a total distance of just under 21.5 miles. Hopefully you have a ride waiting for you.
Bob Falcone
The route I took, starting at Elk Park (top left) and ending at High Drive and Lower Gold Camp Road (bottom right).
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates members cutting the ribbon on the Lake Moraine Trail , Aug 31, 2018.
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Bob Falcone
At about 1.2 miles, the trail turns right and starts a steep, rocky downhill section. On the way down, watch for some old cast iron machinery of some type that was left next to the trail.

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