A few weeks ago, I featured a few of my favorite 5-mile hikes in the Pikes Peak region. This week, a couple more...
In Green Mountain Falls, the Dewey Mountain-Bratton-Catamount Falls loop (which recently reopened) is a nice 5-miler. The hike up Dewey Mountain is a bit of work, but after that, the trail is predominately downhill. This 4.98-mile loop includes paved and dirt roads. While the COTREX route I created shows about 4.25 miles, my actual GPS track has the hike at 4.98 miles.
To Get There: From Colorado Springs, take US 24 west to the last Green Mountain Falls exit, and take Ute Pass Avenue to the bottom of the hill — to where it bears left after crossing the creek. Park on your left and follow the track above to start the loop. Only park on Ute Pass Avenue, along the creek.
Things You Need to Know: The beginning of the hike to the top of Dewey Mountain is fairly strenuous, to include the roads to get to the Dewey Mountain trailhead. The route to the trailhead is marked along the road. The section of the Catamount Falls Trail that goes along the falls is rocky and can be tricky. At the bottom of the falls, turn left. Follow the dirt road to the top of Belvedere Avenue and turn right to close the loop. Be respectful of the residents and don't be noisy, don't litter, and pick up after your leashed dogs.
Mueller State Park has some great loop trails, including a hike on the south side of the park that I featured in the previous 5-miler column. This one is on the far north side of the park. and features some old historic buildings. In late September/early October, it's the place to go to see fall colors.
From the Grouse Mountain trailhead, go north for about .16 miles and then turn left on Cheesman Ranch Trail #17. Follow it past the old barns and corrals at the old Cheesman Ranch (some maps show it as Geer Ranch). Continue uphill past the ranch and at the top of the hill, turn right at Buffalo Rock Trail #33. Turn left at Moonshine Trail #36 and follow it past Cahill Pond Trail #34. At the end of #36, bear right onto Cheesman Ranch Trail #17 and return to the trailhead. The route is detailed here.
To Get There: Once you enter the state park, take the (only) road all the way to the end, at the Grouse Mountain Trail parking lot. Entry fees do apply.
Things You Need to Know: Dogs are not permitted on any trails in Mueller State Park. This hike is easiest when done in the direction shown on the route linked above (clockwise). If you want to lengthen this hike, add in the Dynamite Cabin Trail (#32), for an additional .67 miles.
The Catamount Ranch Open Space in Teller County, is home to some nice trails and also is a gateway to the North Slope Recreation Area and the Ring the Peak trail system. A nice 5-mile-ish hike there is the Elder-Fehn Trail, with its great views of the north face of Pikes Peak. Mostly tree-covered, it's a good getaway from the hot summer sun. In the winter, after a fresh snow fall, it's a nice snowshoeing destination, too. From the trailhead, take the moderately difficult trail for about 2 miles, where it forms a "lariat" trail. No matter which way you go at the loop, the experience is the same. Close the loop and follow the trail back to the trailhead for a hike that's a bit under 5.25 miles.
To Get There: From Colorado Springs, take US 24 west through Woodland Park. After passing the hospital, at the top of the hill, make a left turn on Edlowe Road (look for a fire station and church at the intersection). Take Edlowe Road to the trailhead, which is just after the road goes from paved to dirt. Do not go through the gates at the west end of the parking lot.
Things You Need to Know: The parking lot at the trailhead is very small and fills quickly on weekends, so have a "Plan B" if you find the lot full, or consider it for a weekday hike. There is a pit toilet available at the trailhead.
As of this writing, the Section 16 trail — closed due to a rockslide that did significant damage to trees, the trail and a small bridge — remains closed. U.S. Forest Service officials tell me there is no timeline yet for reopening, as they are still evaluating the condition of the trail and whether any dangerous conditions exist from more potential rockslides.
The El Paso County Parks Department is looking to fill three vacancies on its Park Advisory Board, "one to represent District 5 (central portion of El Paso County), one to represent District 1 (northern portion of El Paso County), and one to represent District 4 (southern portion of El Paso County)." Apply here.
The parks department is also asking for citizen comments on a draft master plan for Homestead Ranch Regional Park. Review the draft master plan and leave comments here.
Be Good. Do Good Things. Leave No Trace.